What is a Social Media Crisis and Are You at Risk?

Social Media Crisis and Are You at RiskWhat is a social media crisis
Let’s start at the beginning. A social media crisis is when uncontrollable and negative activity is taking place about your company, online.

Now I’m not talking about a little rumor or some negative criticism posted to your Facebook wall or blog stream. (Although there is a proper way to respond to these types of situations to refrain them from developing into something bigger). I’m talking about a full-on social media crisis.

For example, if you wake up one morning to find dozens or more negative comments flooding in about you online, all mentioning the same situation or topic – then this is a major red flag and time to put your social media crisis plan into action.

Who does a social media crisis affect?
There’s a misconception floating around stating that a social media crisis only attacks big corporations and/or brands actively on social media. Unfortunately, these theories are false. Social media crises don’t discriminate. They can attack any brand – from the small brand-of-one to the mega corporation – at any time.

So how can you protect your brand from a social media crisis?
The wisest solution here is to be prepared your company with a social media crisis plan. It’s a known fact that for every 1$ you spend developing a crisis plan, $7 is saved in brand damage and repercussions when you eventually find yourself faced with a crisis.

Learn to protect yourself from a social media crisis

The following strategic steps will help you prevent and overcome a social media crisis.

Preventative measures:

1- Monitor the discussions around your brand
No matter the size of your organization, things are being said about you and your business online. The first step to overcoming a social media crisis is to regularly monitor and respond to these online conversations accordingly.

Note: There are a tons of free tools out there that will help you do this. You just have to set them up to alert you when someone mentions your brand (or whatever keywords you’re monitoring for) online. For a list of some awesome free tools to check out, click here.

2- Build a loyal following
This is a very important preemptive strategy. A loyal following will come to your aid in a social media crisis and help you regain control of the situation. Trust me, when you find yourself faced with a social media attack, you’ll be wishing for all the help you can get!

3- Brainstorm different possible crises
Prevent the preventable. This is a great exercise to do a couple times a year. Get creative and explore the different scenarios of possible crises and then find a way to prevent those that can be prevented, while preparing for those that cannot.

Steps to take once you’re in a social media crisis:

1- Respond to the crisis immediately
This is extremely important. The secondyou realize that you’re under social media attack, you must RESPOND! Your first response should simply advise your audience that you’re aware of the situation, that you’re looking into it, and that they can rely on you for more information as soon as you know more. This simple tactic will immediately help you begin to regain control of the situation.

2- Release an official statement
So the public is aware that you’ve been alerted to the crisis and that you’re in the process of looking into it. Once you’re ready, it’s time to hold true on your promise and release your official statement. This statement should be released on the same channel that the attack originally broke out on.

Within this official statement you should remember to:

  • Be open, honest and transparent
  • Do not make excuses – confront the situation head on
  • Answer all common questions
  • State how you are correcting the situation
  • Assure your audience that you’re taking the proper measures to make sure that the situation will never happen again
  • Show that you are sincere, understanding and compassionate

3- Sincerely apologize
The truth is that if you share a strong relationship with your customers and fans, no matter how upset they are, they’re going to want to forgive you. Forgiveness is in our nature and a part of our society, but in order for them to forgive you, you’ll need to sincerely apologize – and mean it.

Along with your sincere apology, it’s very important to show that you’ve learned your lesson and that you’re taking the measures to make sure that no such event will ever happen again. This will allow you to continue to strengthen the relationship you share with your customers and fans, instead of watching it be destroyed by the crisis.

Bonus tip:

Never delete a negative comment
There’s one piece of advice that I can’t close this article without sharing with you. It’s very important and is the number 1 biggest mistake that brands tend to make when faced with a social media crisis: they get scared and delete the negative comments posted to their channels.

It’s a normal reaction to want to hide the negative, but what these brands don’t realize is that by doing this, they’re only further upsetting their audience. You need to remember that it should always be about strengthening the relationship, so instead of deleting the comments, respond publicly to them and focus on strengthening the relationships rather than destroying them even further.

In conclusion
A social media crisis, unprejudice and unpredictable, can strike at any time – no matter your brand’s size, industry or social media presence. However, with the right social media crisis plan, you can learn the proper ways to respond to such a crisis and turn the negative situation into a positive brand experience, bringing you even closer to your customers and fans.

Now this is something worth investing in!

Have you prepared your company for a social media crisis, and if not, do you intend to? Share your thoughts and experiences with me below!


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