At some point, we will have to deal with issues and problems that are brought up by YMCA members or others that come up on our social media connections. Handling these situations is a reflection of our Social Media Policy, where upon hiring you have agreed to follow the Code of Conduct to handle situations appropriately. The following will be a guide on handling the situations appropriately when a situation comes up.
Remember: Any YMCA director, social media manager, or staff is also a reputation manager.
Before even working on an issue, you must make sure you are actively “listening” on all of our social media connections, especially when it’s feedback mentioned towards the YMCA. When the feedback can be identified with negative value, we must act quickly before the situation gets worse or goes viral.
If the feedback on one of our social media pages has positive value, e.g. a compliment on how well we help members, then no further actions are required other than acknowledging and thanking them.
If the feedback has negative sentiment value, e.g. a member complaining fitness center staff is not giving assistance when needed, then we need to identify what led to the problem. Who was involved? What happened and when did it happen? Once you have a clear and objective view on the problem, it’s time to look into steps to fix it or who to contact.
Difference between Problem and Crisis
We will mainly be dealing with problems that are either addressed or randomly brought to our attention, but we may also come across a crisis that could be brought up on our social media pages. If there ever is a problem, or a crisis, refer to our SPYMCA Problem and Crisis Guide to see if the issue discovered is either a problem or a crisis, which will also go into further details, such as risk level, department to contact, numbers to reach, etc.
3. Consider the Four T’s
- Tone – What should be the tone of your response? Make sure that it aligns both with The YMCA’s tone in general, but also with the appropriate tone demanded by the situation. If you can be lighthearted about the incident, be lighthearted, but if it’s a serious issue, communicate in a serious tone.
- Timeliness – How long ago did the incident happen? Make sure you’re reacting as quickly as you can and not taking longer than recommended time to respond. Refer back to the SPYMCA Problem and Crisis Guide to see how fast we should be responding to a member/user’s problem, if applicable
- Thoroughness – Only cover the social media pages that need to be covered. This isn’t like posting content; you don’t need to be everywhere, drawing more attention to a problem on other pages that aren’t necessary. Consider how the story is spreading, and address it in the same way.
- Transparency – Not only should your response acknowledge any mistake your brand made, but it also should show that you are trying to deal with it an honest way. This means openly broadcasting all of the steps that you are taking to fix it and make sure it doesn’t become
Now it’s time to take action and respond. Get your social media posts ready on all appropriate social media pages, then send them out. Be prepared to continually deal with further feedback. Alert the PR team to your communications strategy so that news reports only include the official positioning.
Once you’ve developed a plan, make sure to circulate it within your organization. Everyone in marketing, PR, and sales should read it. You could even try running scenarios with our social media management team to test your preparation.
5. Other notes and considerations
- Remember with our Social Media Policy, if the user or member contacting/commenting us through social media is under 18, keep it appropriate and YMCA related without making anything personal or having a conversation non-YMCA related.
- Do not delete comments on our pages, anything posted will be needed for our records, or if further action is needed, to keep the comment as a reference/information
- In case of an emergency crisis situation: pause scheduled social media posts, pause marketing emails, check all content on social media pages that could be relevant to the crisis
6. Post-crisis Situation
If we were ever to get involved with a crisis situation, and when the situation ends (but while the experience is still fresh), we will hold a debriefing session with everyone involved and the social media management team during one of our meetings. Cover what worked, what didn’t work, and we will update our crisis management plan accordingly if needed.
With a good crisis plan in place, and the proper training, we can safely avoid many potential social media catastrophe.
Image courtesy of: