How to Handle a Crisis on Social Media

Social media can be a double-edged sword. When it’s working well, it brings you closer to your customers and helps you forge a relationship that promotes brand loyalty.

But when it works poorly, you can have a crisis.

Customer complaints, accusations, and overall anger can show up in your social media feeds, particularly if you’re a larger brand. And because each situation is different, it requires a unique approach to make sure you can retain your hard-earned customers while also standing up for your brand.

If you’ve never experienced a crisis on social media, then you’re lucky. But that means you need to prepare for the worst, just in case. To learn more, keep reading, and give us a call at 888-601-5359.

Why social media crises happen

Social media has changed the way the world shares information, and that includes both compliments and complaints. As the old adage says: If you do something well, a customer will tell one of their friends; if you do something wrong, they’ll tell ten of their friends.

However, social media crises can take different forms, depending on what you do and what social networks you use. That means you need to be prepared for a number of potential situations.

  • An employee tweets something inappropriate, offensive, or simply in poor taste. Even if the employee is reprimanded, the tweet has already been heard and seen.
  • A past employee with a chip on their shoulder speaks negatively about their experience at your company. Whether what they’re saying is true or not, it’s an attack on your company’s reputation.
  • A customer photographs employees on a break or joking around, but it’s taken out of context and forces a backlash. Again, whether your employees acted appropriately or not, it’s an attack on your company’s reputation.
  • A customer heavily critiques your company using humor, anger, or some other entertaining element, and the content is shared among your customer base. This can be one of the more difficult situations to navigate since popular opinion could support your former customer.
  • A customer leaves an over-the-top, scathing review on Yelp or Google that drives business away. This is especially bad for smaller companies that don’t have any reviews yet since that single review will remain permanently visible by anyone else looking up your business.

Given all these possibilities, it’s no wonder that businesses can be stressed when they’re handling social media, especially with negative press. However, the end result doesn’t have to been doom and gloom. In fact, there are several steps that can ensure any organization will be able to professionally respond to any social media dilemma.

How to manage a crisis

In the event a crisis does arise via social media, you should be prepared. And while each situation is different, you can use a handful of smart strategies to keep a cool head and make the best of a bad period in your company’s history.

1. Keep a level head

When a crisis arises, it’s best to keep a cool head no matter how hurt or upset you may become. Before you do anything, consider the potential results of every action you might take.

The best rule to remember is to act on logic, thought, and strategy — not emotion. Emotional responses run the risk of making the situation worse, while a well-thought response can make it better.

2. Assess the situation

Will the social media disaster bring down the company? Or is it really more of a nuisance? Sometimes, you can just let the crisis pass. But other times, you need to respond. Is this just an annoyance, or has the backlash from the community warranted a response from your company?

Based on your answer, your management of the crisis may stop here — after all, staying out of it is always an option. But if your situation requires a response, there are a few other considerations to make.

3. Determine if you need legal help

In certain fields — like medicine — there could be a laundry list of restrictions to what you can and can’t say, especially when it comes to a former patient. If that’s the case, your hands could be tied. Saying anything about a patient’s medical history would give them the ability to sue, and that could outright destroy your business.

If your hands are tied by a situation, find a legal advisor to determine what you can and can’t say. This is especially important going into the next step.

4. Issue a statement

Companies should always use the advice of their legal advisors or PR agencies to inform them on issuing a statement. Those are the people and companies that know you best, and they can also help you the best.

With that in mind, you have several options when you issue a statement. You can refute the original claim that started the crisis, take responsibility and apologize, or say that you simply cannot (or will not) comment.

5. Evaluate and learn from the crisis when it’s over

Crises are tough, but they’re tremendous learning opportunities for corporations to adapt to new trends. What led to the crisis, and how could it have been avoided? What can you do to avoid it in the future? Is the crisis the fault of one person at one time, or is it a collection of people working over a long period?

By understanding where the crisis began, you can more easily avoid another one in the future.

WebFX knows social media crisis management

As a leading Internet marketing agency in the industry, WebFX knows how to get you out of a social media crisis and prevent others from happening in the future.

Our team of talented social media professionals know the best ways to approach social media to get strong, positive responses from your followers while building a loyal customer base. With our expertise, we’ll improve your standings in social media while also building your reputation for quality, sincerity, and honesty.

Do you want to maintain your hard-earned reputation? Contact us today to start working on a social media plan that’ll keep your reputation spotless!