While the world continues to grapple with one particular crisis – the COVID-19 pandemic – it’s important to acknowledge another type that could easily beset your company one day: a social media crisis.

What do we mean by a ‘social media crisis’? Well, we’re not generally referring to the occasional negative or sniping comment here or there. Instead, we’re mostly talking about those events on social media that could be an extremely damaging, and perhaps even existential threat to your brand.

Social media can be extremely powerful for growing your business’s audience. However, it could prove just as potent at destroying that audience if a prominent employee of yours makes an ill-judged Facebook comment, or the company Twitter profile tweets something intended to be humorous in circumstances that instead call for a serious and sombre response.

So, what are the basic steps you should take if your brand does end up in a social media crisis?

  1. Stay calm. Don’t risk making the situation worse by rashly tweeting or posting something you’ll regret! Instead, take a deep breath, consult the key figures in your company who need to know what has happened, and come up with a considered plan for handling this predicament – that is, if you didn’t have a social media crisis plan in place already.
  2. Pause any scheduled posts. Scheduling posts in advance is generally a great common-sense means of social media management. However, in a crisis, you won’t want that ‘funny’ or ‘silly’ meme to be your brand’s first official communication in the wake of it all.
  3. Respond in a thoughtful and responsible manner. Even if you’re angered by customers being negative or threatening to boycott your brand, you should resist responding in a similarly negative and argumentative way; it’ll simply leave your company looking even worse. Respond within 30 minutes of the crisis starting if possible, acknowledging the controversy and showing that you care about resolving it – even if you initially just say, “We’re sorry that this has happened. We are investigating this matter and will be making an official statement soon.”
  4. Apologise if necessary. It’s a simple step that can go a long way to lessening people’s anger.
  5. Update everyone on subsequent developments. Don’t go ‘radio silent’ during a social media crisis. Instead, give updates on the situation through your brand’s usual social media channels, even if you’re only thanking everyone for their patience. Also leave audiences in no doubt that you are taking the necessary steps to solve the problem. Finally, when you’re ready, provide more details about how you’re addressing the cause of the controversy, sharing the most important points on your social media feed, with a link to a more detailed reference page.

Would you like to learn more from Jumping Spider Media’s own social media and reputation management experts about how you can help to cultivate and protect the right image for your brand online? If so, it couldn’t be more straightforward to contact us via email or phone.