How to Prevent and Manage a Social Media Crisis: Examples and Tips

Social media can build or break a brand. Even with the best social media strategy, a crisis will sometimes arise. A simple action can lead to a social media outrage that will bring out the trolls. It could be a well-meaning post that gets misunderstood or your social media team infringing on another person’s content. 

If you want to avoid a social media crisis, the best way to do that is by preparing for it. This article will guide you on how to prevent a social media crisis. With the amplification power of social media, a crisis can escalate quickly. Spoiling a brand’s reputation can significantly impact sales if not well handled. In this article, we will guide you on effectively managing a social media crisis.

Examples of Social Media Crisis

Here are some examples of social media crises:

United Airlines Customer Handling

The action or inaction of your employees can be posted on social media, leading to a crisis. For instance, in 2017, United Airlines faced a social media crisis when a video of a customer being forcefully removed from an overbooked airline was posted online, leading to widespread outrage.

Most social media users accused the airline of lacking empathy and poor customer handling. The airline management handled the issues by apologizing and accepting responsibility for the overbooked situation. 

H & M ad Goof

In 2018, the H&M clothing brand had an ad that featured an African American boy wearing a hoodie written “ coolest monkey in the jungle.” Many people considered the ad racially insensitive, leading to criticism and a call to boycott the company’s products. H&M pulled down the ad and issued an apology. They also pledged to review their marketing strategies to prevent the reoccurrence of such incidences.

KFC Shipping Crisis

In 2018, KFC suffered a shipping problem that led to store closures. There were customers online who complained of missing their favorite treats. In response to the crisis, the restaurant shared an online ad that used FCK letters. This was hilarious and offered customers an explanation of the situation. They also guided their customers to branches that still had stock.

Tips on Managing Social Media Crisis

Here are ways of handling social media crisis:

Fast Response

Some brands have the misperception that a social media crisis will disappear if they ignore it. However, this rarely happens and instead only serves to worsen the situation. Therefore, the best way to deal with a social media crisis is by responding promptly before it gets out of hand. If the crisis resulted from a demeaning post, it must be deleted immediately. Avoid denying or rationalizing the problem. Instead, accept your mistake and apologize. 

Have a Social Media Policy

The best way to deal with a social media crisis is by preventing it before it happens. You can do that by implementing a social media policy. While this will depend on your individual business, this could consist of:

  • Copyright rules and regulations to be followed.
  • Brand voice guidelines. Should social media managers use a formal or casual voice?
  • Privacy guidelines on when customer conversations need to be taken to DMs.
  • Confidentiality guidelines on what business information staff can share.

Use Social listening tools

There are social listening tools that you can use to keep track of brand mentions and understand what customers are saying. These can help you track what customers are saying before the issues escalate. If you notice a sudden spike in brand mentions, it could be a cue that you need to dig further.

Studies indicate that 96% of customers do not complain directly to a company. Since they will not be complaining to you but will post on their timelines, you need to have a way of tracking their posts and comments. You should track the social mentions to understand what people say about your brand. Some of the ways you can use to track brand mentions are:

  • Check the notification buttons of the social media sites, as most will alert you on mentions and tags. Ensure that your notifications are turned on to alert you of mentions.
  • Use third-party tools like Google Alerts, TweetDeck, Awario, and Social Mention.
  • Manually search for hashtags with your brand names.

If there are negative mentions, you must follow up on the causes and solve the issue as soon as possible.

Have a Plan For Dealing With a Crisis

You don’t have to wait until a social media crisis arises for you to react. Instead of waiting for things to happen or starting to debate how to handle them, it will be easier for you to respond when you already have a plan. The plan should include all the actions of all the staff, from the junior level to the top managers. It should also include:

  • How to identify the kind and magnitude of a crisis
  • The contacts of all critical employees
  • What  role each staff and department will play in handling it
  • Who will issue the update, and when
  • Link to your social media policy

Handle the commenter

After providing your initial response, you must give a more detailed reply. If you try to defend yourself, you will put yourself into a more vitriolic confrontation. If a customer demands more answers, you can contact them through email or phone.

Pause scheduled posts

While a content schedule is essential, continuing to post will only add more anger to your followers. Therefore, you must suspend the scheduled posts until you have dealt with the crisis.

Final Words

A social media crisis needs to be handled as soon as possible and in the best way possible. It might take time to undo the damage, but it’s possible. You will handle it professionally by following the steps outlined in this guide.

Benjamin is a writer with over ten years of experience in the content writing field. He holds a Bachelor's degree in  Journalism from Strathmore University. He writes on various niches such as product reviews, self-improvement, and making mone online. You can find him curled on his couch with a self-improvement book when he is not blogging.
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