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A Guide to Dealing with a Social Media Crisis
3rd April 2019 By Gabriel Burrow

Social media has undoubtedly opened up more creative ways for brands to have meaningful conversations with their stakeholders and reach new audiences, but it’s also given these groups a very public platform on which people can shine the spotlight on moments when brands or their employees make mistakes.

Social media has blurred the boundaries of external communications, and formality for that matter. In practice all employees can be caught out, be that an ill-considered tweet in response to a customer complaint or an unfortunate ten year old Facebook post. They are all spokespeople.

No brand can ever please their stakeholders all the time, but when something does go wrong, knowing how to act can be crucial to preventing a social media mishap from becoming a PR disaster. We’ve created a short guide of some of the basic strategies you can use to avoid a crisis.

There are three key stages a brand needs to understand to prevent a social media mistake from spiralling into a crisis.

  1. Identifying the crisis – you can’t control a situation if you don’t know anything about it:

    • Make sure your listening tools are in place to monitor any brand mentions and the sentiment behind them.

  2. Control the crisis – sticking to these guidelines around a potential crisis emerging is a must:

    • Keep employees up to date – anyone working with the brand could be caught out on social media, so before any crisis occurs it’s important to make sure they are familiar with brand messaging and values.

    • Timely response – as soon as an issue is found you need to demonstrate you’re aware of it, and that you’re working to resolve it as quickly as possible.

    • Clear responsibility – any employee can get caught up, but if there is a clear structure of who responds to what, then it’s far less likely that employees will speak out of turn and exacerbate issues.

  3. Response

    • Measure your response – don’t escalate an emotional argument.

    • Tone of voice – being sincere is key. You need to ensure your response matches the severity of the situation.

    • Contrition – if a mistake has clearly been made, acknowledge it.

We know that no two crises are the same and require strategies that are tailored accordingly. If you do need a more substantial exploration of media training and specialised social media strategy then please get in touch with our PR team at publicrelations@mediazoo.tv.

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