Your Guide to Avoiding a Social Media Crisis for Your Business

Things move fast on social media.

Stories can inexplicably go viral in a matter of minutes. Some are uplifting, funny and amazing. Some are just plain odd (remember this egg from 2019?). But others can instantly create a public relations crisis – damaging your brand and threatening the survival of your business.

Does this mean you should shut down your social profiles to prevent a potential disaster? No way. In fact, the best thing you can do to avoid a social media crisis is to take a strong lead.

Today, our digital marketing experts share proactive tips to help you prevent a social media nightmare before it starts:

Develop your policy NOW.

An ounce of prevention is worth…well, you know. When it comes to heading-off social media problems, a sound, comprehensive policy is worth its weight in gold. While each company’s needs will vary, in general your social media policy should include:

  • Guidance on: accessing/using personal social media at work; whether employees can/may/should disclose their affiliation with your company on their personal accounts; rules about how employees may/may not speak about your company online; legal disclaimers employees must use.
  • Guidelines for posting on your company profiles: who has permission and responsibility for posting; topics all employees should avoid discussing (even with a disclaimer in place); copyright guidelines; guidelines for replying to posts/messages (including privacy issues).
  • Prohibitions against things like sharing confidential company information, posting derogatory or inflammatory content, etc.
  • Branding guidelines. Make sure the tone, look and content of posts complement your brand. Provide clear guidelines describing the tone/voice that should be used in posts; how your logo should be used; and overall creative direction (including preferences for images).

Have your legal counsel review your policy. Clearly communicate it to employees, and have everyone acknowledge in writing that they have reviewed it, understand it and agree to comply with it.

Secure your accounts.

One disgruntled employee with access to your platforms can do irreparable damage to your business. Manage role permissions carefully, protect password access and regularly update passwords.

Listen – and respond.

People are talking about your brand online – both on your social profiles, and in myriad other places, too. A good social listening program keeps you on top of conversations, allowing your company to capitalize on opportunities from social media – and address potential issues before they explode into disasters.

  • Assign responsibility for monitoring accounts (e.g., setting up and following up on Google Alerts; reviewing posts/mentions/inquiries on social).
  • Create a comprehensive process for maximizing positive comments and proactively addressing negative comments online (hint: BARQAR has a solution for that!).
  • Consider tools like Brandwatch to help you spot major changes in the volume of mentions about your company or sentiment toward it.
  • Train anyone who posts to your social accounts on how to listen and engage with your social followers. Empower them to handle minor issues, and make sure they know how to identify and escalate issues that warrant further attention or service.

Be transparent.

Whether you’re managing a crisis or not, transparency is always a business best-practice – building trust, customer loyalty and more. In this post, we reviewed the marketing and business benefits transparency confers.

Create a social media crisis communication plan.

Despite your best efforts, you may still have to deal with a social media crisis at some point. To keep negative repercussions to a minimum, you must act swiftly. By creating a social media crisis communication plan now, you can respond quickly – and keep a small problem from spiraling out of control. Here are a few things to include in your plan:

  • How to define the type and magnitude of a crisis.
  • Who should handle decision-making and executing elements of your plan, including:
    • Communicating internal updates.
    • Temporarily suspending social media posting.
    • Sending out scripted, pre-approved external messages or information.
  • Up-to-date contact information for critical employees.
  • A link to your social media policy.

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