Social media in a crisis

Tips for managing your social media during a reputational crisis

You have a social media plan full of engaging copy, well-chosen GIFs and slick images. But how well-prepared are you for when things go wrong? A crisis can quickly spiral out of control and damage your reputation. Your social media channels can help you to regain control.

Here are Verve’s top 10 tips for managing your social media during a crisis

1. Be prepared

Find out exactly:

Have a crisis communications plan ready – and ask yourself:

2. Control the narrative

Have a strategy in place with a clear understanding of the critical path – where you want to be and how to get there. This could include key messages, objection handlers and performance indicators. Be prepared to get in front of the story and take charge of the information, rather than reacting.

3. Accept fault

If your organisation is genuinely at fault, accept the blame and apologise. There are few things more damaging to a brand than appearing to be in denial or getting caught covering up a failure.

Always point out what is being done to prevent the same mistakes happening in future and evaluate the effectiveness of the apology through monitoring.

4. Governance

Make sure the right people can access the social media accounts. If just one member of the team has all the access and happens to be on holiday, you could lose precious time finding logins and passwords.

5. Create a web page addressing the issue – ensure servers can handle the load

Depending on the severity of your situation, you may need to set up a landing page to address the issue. Ensure that your servers can handle a spike in traffic to this page.

6. Respond to messages quickly

You may expect people to comment and message you directly. Always respond in a timely manner, even if your response is “we don’t have an answer for you right now, but we’re working on it”. Ignoring stakeholders and the media can lead to misinformation and frustration.

7. Choose your content carefully

If you have scheduled posts promoting your product or service, the safest bet is to pause these until the storm has passed.

8. Get the tone right

It can be tempting to make light of the situation, thinking a touch of levity will help to downplay the severity of the situation. When your positive reputation is at stake this can be a way to feed the fire. It may seem that you’re not taking the issue seriously. During crises, try to use non-inflammatory, neutral language and adopt a calm but positive tone of voice.

9. Assign resource as needed

If you are expecting a huge influx of inbound messages you may need to assign extra (fully briefed) staff to help.

10. Have a debrief session once the storm has passed

Once the dust has settled and everything is back to business as usual, have a debrief session with your team. Look at what worked well, what didn’t and adapt your plan for the next crisis.

If you’re looking for support, we offer specialist crisis management services for public and private sector clients, businesses and organisations of all shapes and sizes. Get in contact to see how we can help you formulate an airtight crisis management plan today.

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