Respond First – First Responders

ImageQuick, we’re losing it fast… Everybody stand back…. Clear!

When I hear the above phrase, I immediately think emergency or crisis. These unexpected and undesirable events happen every day, and there is typically a small window of opportunity to save the victim.

The victim in this case… Your brand’s reputation.

Maybe someone accidentally posted an offensive photo or made a “harmless” joke that someone did not like – or maybe your website/database has been hacked. Regardless of the accident that has occurred, community managers (or anyone associated with the brand for that matter) must be prepared to respond accordingly.

The following is a 5-Step Crisis Management Plan that any organization could implement with their social media policy.

  1. Early Response – The first step in any crisis is to act hastily and accurately to gain control of the situation and avoid further damage. The same goes for a crisis on social media. Monitoring social media channels will allow for early detection and quick response.
  2. Own It – If you did something wrong, do not try to cover it up or withdraw it. Own your mistakes and make it known that it has happened. Honesty and trust are the foundations of a strong relationship, so make a good impression from the beginning. It is also better to hear it directly from you than another source that you have made a mistake.
  3. Listen – It is always important to listen to your customers or members, but it is especially important to do so in a crisis. Allow people to express their concerns and feelings, and make sure to pay attention to every word. Not only does being listened to help make people feel better, but it also allows you to hear every side of the story, so you can respond more accurately.
  4. Act on Your Word – Simply put – When you say you will do something, do it.
  5. Never Lose Your Cool – Never let your emotions get in the way of your judgment. Emotions run high in times of crisis, so keep yours in check and respond thoughtfully.

BONUS: Always act in the best interest of the company! Do not make matters worse by acting       any other way.

By following these guidelines, any crisis can be resolved. When carrying out these steps, keep in mind that you will not please everyone – nor do you have to. Acting in this manner will give the company the best chance of restoring its reputation and integrity.


1 Comment

  1. Hi Sid,
    Nice post. Really nice. As always here are my suggestions and a few things I loved about the post.

    Regarding own your mistakes. Not only your mistakes, but if the mistake was made by anyone on your team. An employee, consultant working for your company or organization or a volunteer. At the time, they were working for, consulting for, or volunteering for the brand. Never excuse them by not accepting responsibility for their mistake.

    Also, base your response to the customer and online community based on the situation and severeness of the post, comment, tweet, etc. Resolve the situation not with the sole purpose of saving the brand, but providing the customer and online community a reasonable resolution based on reasonable expectations and outcomes that benefit the customer, online community and the brand (in that order).

    Never lose your cool. Only so much can be excused or forgiven with the lame excuse I said it, posted or tweeted out of anger. I really didn’t mean it, doesn’t really resonate well online as well as offline when it comes to losing your cool. This was a good post Sid.


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