Managing a Social Media Meltdown: The 4 Steps to Take During Crisis Mode

by Gaby Gramont

The major Equifax data breach that put over 140 million Americans’ personal data at risk was a major crisis. The credit reporting agency reported the breach on a Thursday. The next morning, the official @AskEquifax Twitter account published a tweet wishing everyone a “Happy Friday!” The public was quick to pile on, with responses that ranged from disappointment to sarcasm to wishes for the social media manager’s death.

That’s not exactly a strong case study in social media crisis management, is it?

Every company is vulnerable to a crisis, but it is critical your business is prepared to manage a meltdown properly on social media. Use these strategies to ensure you don’t end up like Equifax.

One: Develop a Plan

It is true you never know when a crisis will occur or what it will be, but you can develop a plan for dealing with anything that comes your way. The moment a crisis arises is not the time for your social media team to scramble into action.

Prepare a stable of posts that are ready to go, covering a wide range of possibilities. This could include product recall, a data breach, a severe weather event, negative backlash against a previous post, trouble with a spokesperson, and everything in between.

Drafting responses ahead of time ensures preapproval from relevant stakeholders and guarantees messaging will remain on-message and on-brand. Assign one or two people to be in charge in the event of a crisis, and only give those people access to your library of crisis content. Those two people should also be in charge of pulling down any and all prescheduled posts for that day, just to make sure you don’t run into an “Equifax problem.”

Two: Move Quickly

If your company is experiencing a crisis, the public and the media will immediately visit your social media profiles to see if you’ve taken action. If you aren’t filling the void, the public will, and speculation and negativity can spread like wildfire. Silence during a crisis can be deadly.

Even if it will take a few hours to pull together an official reaction from the organization, the team should be able to get social media messaging out quickly that acknowledges the issue, apologizes (if necessary) and lets the public know that a formal response is forthcoming.

Three: Monitor Your Feeds Constantly

Public sentiment has a way of shifting quickly. During a crisis, members of the team should be monitoring your feeds constantly to see what your customers and the general public are saying. It is also critical to answer any direct customer questions during this time. Even if you can’t provide specific answers, don’t let customers feel ignored; it will only exacerbate the crisis.

Four: Hire the Right People

How prepared is your DC-area business for a crisis? If you don’t have the right social media and PR people in place, you could find yourself in hot water if the public turns against you. If you need talent for your social media or PR team, but Washington’s top marketing recruiting professionals on your side. Partner with TorchLight, DC’s leading marketing, digital, and communications search and staffing firm. Together, we can help you achieve your recurring goals. Contact us today to learn more.

Posted in Digital marketing