One remark or issue from even one member of your online community has the potential to drastically affect both the online and offline environment for your organization’s brand for years to come… The following are five guidelines to keep in mind to both avoid and manage a social media crisis.
(Guideline 1) A heavy dose of the precautionary principle, along with prevention, are key to mitigate these sorts of occurrences. These are where tools like a Social Media Policy and the role of the Community Manager come into play. Team members in charge of or affiliated with these areas should constantly be monitoring the online community and conversations to always keep a positive image alive for the brand.
If the awful does ensue, however, your team should be equipped with some response techniques to navigate the way through the most treacherous waters known to brands.
(Guideline 2) Be preemptive: Beat the bad news to the punch! If your organization becomes aware of a potential issue or problem that could lead to disaster, go public about it (in all ways possible) before the bad news spreads through other sources. This will build your monitoring and awareness image, as well as simply make it look like you care! Acting quickly can also help avoid a potential lawsuit (such as in the case of a recalled product).
(Guideline 3) Be sincere: If bad news does leak, don’t lie about it or try to cover things up and push them into the dirty closet. The best possible effort should be made to be honest, upfront, and genuine. A sincere, apologetic tone in the brand’s voice is the only way to recover at this point.
(Guideline 4) Provide a recovery vision, and execute: Communicate your goals and steps to remedy the situation (a dance that will be unique to each crisis situation). Bring in the key players, keep the audience up to date with progress, and share how you will recover. Most importantly, the vision should address any amends that must be made, as well as any needed explanations.
(Guideline 5) Foster positivity: Open up online dialogue to create space for supporters and loyal customers to share their thoughts too. Together with steps 2 through 4, this might help outweigh the potential negative uproar.
Once again, the best way to beat a social media crisis is to simply avoid creating one by generating and maintaining a robust, resilient, and exemplary online presence… Nip the negative in the bud!