Managing a Social Media Crisis

Jessica Quero
18 October, 2021

Having a presence on social media has many advantages for brands and companies, but it also has disadvantages. Not properly managing your social media or having customers dissatisfied with the service your brand provided them could cause a reputation crisis which all your followers will witness.

To prevent this from happening, we’re going to look at how you can manage a social media crisis and how you should act if one does arise.

What Is Brand Reputation

A brand reputation is not only what the brand conveys but also consumers’ ideas about it, that is, what they think and perceive about your brand.

This doesn’t only mean what they think about your brand online or on social media but also in the offline world.

How to Prevent a Social Media Crisis

To prevent a reputation crisis on social media, you have to do two things:

✅ MONITOR YOUR BRAND OR COMPANY

Keeping abreast of the comments that your social media followers write is essential, yet you also have to monitor the comments that mention the brand (tagged or not) on and off the social media.

You can use different tools to do this: 

The first one that we recommend is Google Alerts. Define the keywords that you want to monitor (like the name of your brand or company) between quotation marks, as shown in the image below.

With Metricool, you can monitor brands or hashtags on Twitter and Instagram to collect the information that is being said. 

For further information, you can read all about it at Metricool Hashtag Tracker.

You can find out what’s being said about your company or brand, when, about what, etc.

✅ COME UP WITH A GOOD SOCIAL MEDIA CRISIS PLAN

The reputation crisis plan is a document that serves as a guide and describes what to do in the event that the brand or company has a crisis. It’s a document that you need to have no matter what in order to do good Social media marketing.

This document should outline the following points:

What is considered a crisis

The first thing you have to do is determine when the brand considers a crisis is happening, given that just one negative comment doesn’t have to turn into a social media reputation crisis, although it should be taken into account and monitored, so it doesn’t snowball.

For example, a brand’s response to a complaint can end up triggering a crisis. That is, if the brand’s Community Manager doesn’t react appropriately, users may get even angrier. On the other hand, in complicated situations, you could end a potential reputation crisis with a solution that is satisfactory to users.

In what different scenarios may there be a crisis

Bear in mind that you can have a reputation crisis for many reasons: rumors about your products or services, offensive or inappropriate posts, dissatisfied customers, poor employee behavior on social media, etc.

Who will be in charge of responding to each type of crisis

Even if just one person is going to answer all the social media messages (ideally the brand’s or company’s Community Manager), this person has to know whom they should check with to find out what happened and whether what the users are saying on the social media is true.

Types of customers that can create a social media reputation crisis and how to handle them

There are different types of social media users, and you should know how you’re going to handle each of them in the event of a reputation crisis:

  • If the customer is furious, you should calm them down and offer them an alternative (a product return, a discount on their next purchase, etc.).
  • If the customer is dissatisfied, ask for their opinion on how you can improve your product or service and make them see that their opinion is important to the company.
  • If it is a troll or a hater, stop the conversation in its tracks. Monitor what they are saying and only act by answering in a neutral, positive way if you think that the crisis could snowball.

What messages should you use to manage a social media crisis

Each crisis is different. You don’t have to have the exact message you’re going to use written down. However, you may want to have the message you are going to use to get in touch with the affected user to ask them for more information. Or the message the brand will use to apologize if it has made a mistake, even if you later tinker with these messages to fit the situation.

What is the response time

It is important to define response times to prevent annoyed users from becoming even unhappier with the brand or company by thinking that no one cares about what happened to them.

For this reason, you have to define a time range when you should respond. Bear in mind that you’re going to need some time to figure out what happened and what solution or alternative you can offer them.

The quicker the response the better, given that dissatisfaction can escalate. If you already have a message to ask for more information about what happened, use it to show your interest, and let the user know that the mistake is being dealt with.

Steps to Manage a Social Media Crisis

If you have a social media crisis, you have to react quickly yet calmly, following certain steps. Here they are:

ANALYZE

Before panicking, analyze the crisis to find out what you’re going to be dealing with:

  • When did the crisis begin?
  • Why did this comment arise (dissatisfaction, rumors, attacks, etc.), and what type of user made it (customer, troll, influencer, etc.)?
  • Does it affect the entire brand or just part of it (department, staff, etc.)?
  • Are other customers joining the conversation? If so, are they supporting the brand or the user?
  • Is a hashtag being used to tag the conversation?
  • Is it in just one social media or is it jumping to other ones or to other places on the Internet or other media?
  • How does the crisis affect the company? Will you have to write an official statement?

DON’T RUSH

It’s important to be quick when solving reputation crises, but if you rush too much, you could make it worse.

If you think that more people may get involved and stoke the conversation, your best bet is to try to divert it to a private conservation with the affected person. This way, they will be able to provide you with more information so you can offer them a solution. But be careful! If you don’t choose the words of your message properly, you could be seen as blaming the brand for something that may or may not have happened.

This will also buy you more time to investigate whether or not what the user is saying is true.

GET IN TOUCH WITH THE PERSON IN CHARGE

The social media reputation crisis plan should specify a person in charge to contact so they can give you information on whether or not this person is a customer of the brand or company and whether there is proof that something like they describe actually happened.

DON’T DELETE THE COMMENT

This behavior would only be acceptable if the comment is disrespectful or impolite, or contains insults or swear words.

If not, deleting the comment may trigger an even bigger reputation crisis for the brand because it means censoring one of its customers or followers.

DON’T BE AFRAID TO APOLOGIZE, AND BE TRANSPARENT

If what they say is true, don’t be afraid to apologize to the person publicly. 

Provide explanations, and offer alternatives to resolve their problem if possible.

MONITOR THE CRISIS

The comment is going to live on, so the conservation may revive at some point if another customer identifies with the problem.

Furthermore, many major brands’ reputation crises have come with a hashtag that users have created to share their dissatisfaction with the brand.

For this reason, you should track and monitor some keywords in the conflict in case they spread to other social media or other places on the Internet.

LEARN FROM MISTAKES AND REDESIGN YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA CRISIS PLAN

If there is something that caused this crisis, and you can change it, do so. To err is human, but you have to learn from your mistakes and try to do things better.

Plus, assess how the crisis unfolded, how it ended and what feedback you’ve received from the user and your other followers (if they have made any comments).

Finally, add any relevant information you’ve learned to your social media crisis plan, so it can help you manage future reputation crises.

Conclusions

Don’t wait until you’re facing a social media reputation crisis to plan how you should act, given that the situation and not knowing what to do could lead you to make a mistake and even further magnify your customer’s dissatisfaction.

Any questions about the social media reputation crisis plan?

Jessica Quero

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