No company ever expects to have to deal with something dark that threatens to ruin their image or drive their customers away, but all too often those that do not prepare end up taking massive damage from situations they failed to prepare for. No company should go along hoping for the best if they have the resources to plan ahead and if you have people running a company then you have resources, period. Failure to plan for how you will respond to a crisis via social media is just asking for trouble these days. Consumers now understand the power they wield via social networks and they are prepared to bring that to bear against companies that they feel have wronged them or are doing something dastardly. You want to make sure you do not stand idly by and watch the ship sink.
Is a Crisis Response Framework Really Necessary with Social Media?
It absolutely is and it should not be left to the last minute. If possible, preparing before you even launch into the world of social media would be ideal. If you are already involved and are not yet prepared with a solid framework, then as the saying goes, there is no time like the present. You need to have people who are ready to man the customer service posts, answer questions that people post on your Facebook wall or via tweets. You need to be guarded against the kind of rumors that could start swirling if your company makes a mistake or if a person in your organization does something just plain wrong. On social media platforms, bad news spreads a whole lot quicker than good news, so you need to have people who are willing to start putting out the fires the moment you notice a problem is starting to happen.
Training People in Advance Helps You Avoid Incredibly Bad PR
As mentioned, people in your organization need to be ready to go to bat for the team should the need arise. This means that you need to have someone in charge of official responses and some kind of codified way to let customers know that you realize there is a problem, even a huge problem, and that you are going to start taking action immediately. Your people need to be ready to answer questions or at least assure your audience that they will get the answers and try to respond quickly. You want to be ready for accusations and have ways to respond to those without running a smear campaign in response. Keeping a high level of professionalism is very important in a crisis and you have to make sure your team is prepared to do that. Often, you can leverage your customer service team and sometimes your PR or marketing people to help handle the flood of negative responses. What is most important is that your company appears to be taking an active stance and doing what they can to right any perceived wrongs.
If You Do Not Speak Out Others Will Speak for Your Brand
Silence is not golden when it comes to a crisis. A company that says nothing or nothing meaningful is going to provoke further outrage when people are upset. What you want to do is try to keep things open and clear and remind people that your organization is composed of humans who make mistakes. It is very important that you do this loudly and clearly, admitting the problem and then making sure the word gets out. There is no shame in admitting problems and sometimes a level of humility can help win over even the angriest consumers if they feel it is sincere. Under no circumstances should you need to spend more than a few hours, much less days, trying to round up people to help deal with a crisis. Have a plan and people trained for the task – even do virtual drills and brainstorming to keep them sharp.
Be Sure to Bring All Your Profiles to Bear to Address a Crisis Fast
Don’t forget that people use a variety of social media platforms, but not everyone uses all of them. Some of your audience may only know you through Twitter whereas others may know you only through Facebook. Do not wait for customers to come complaining to you, get your message out across all of your brand’s social media profiles as quickly as possible so that you look as if you realize the problem and are acting on it. Use your social media presence to put the crisis to rest fast.