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How to handle a social media crisis

30 Sep 2016
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Social media is a boon for businesses, but the nature of the social media beast means that the fate of your brand reputation is often at the mercy of these social sites. Bad press, whether justified or not, can spread rapidly across the internet like an infectious disease, leaving your brand reputation in tatters. So, when a social media crisis strikes, it pays to know what you need to do to minimise the damage.

Plan your strategy

You'll no doubt have an SEO, digital marketing or social media marketing strategy in place, but have you given consideration to establishing a social media crisis management strategy? Hopefully, you'll only ever receive glowing comments online, but if you do something wrong, or a troll decides to bad mouth your good name, the world of social media will soon get to know about it. Knowing what to do to manage the crisis can diffuse the situation quickly, while limiting the damage to your reputation. As well as putting a plan in place, assign who is going to deal with a crisis when one occurs.

Monitor social media sites

As part of your social marketing strategy, use tools to monitor social media sites, so you can keep abreast of what is being said about your brand. By doing this, you may be able to spot any potentially volatile situations and tackle them before a full-blown social media crisis erupts.

Act quickly

When your reputation is on the line, the goal is to act quickly. If you don't respond to negative press online, you'll only make matters worse, reinforcing a guilty as charged verdict. Even if you don't have the answers or the full facts, at least acknowledge at the source of the crisis that you are sorry, are aware of the situation and will be dealing with it. The worst thing you can ever do is to retaliate and get into an argument online - even if you know you are in the right. Think about what you write before you post, and maintain your brand integrity at all stages. Never delete posts or comments from others, as this will only add fuel to the fire.

Keep informed

If the crisis is ongoing, keep your social media sites regularly updated on the situation, even if there's not necessarily anything new to report during investigations. Be mindful during this time of other non-related items you post online, which may be in bad taste. You may need to hold off executing an email marketing or content marketing campaign until the furore has settled down, for example. Don't shy away, though - make yourself accessible during this time.

Learn from the experience

A social media crisis doesn't necessarily mean the demise of a brand. If handled correctly, a brand may be able to come out relatively unscathed and may even gain renewed respect following its response. What's crucial, however, no matter what the outcome, is to always look back at the experience and learn from it, to reduce the chances of it happening again.

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