Social Media Crisis Management Plan

Few fires burn hotter than a customer’s anger on social media.

If you don’t address it quickly, it’s hard to contain.

If you don’t address it correctly, you’re throwing gasoline on it.

A social media crisis plan helps you take the correct steps quickly in the midst of your already busy schedule.

Regardless of your business’s size, there are some universal elements that you should consider. Sarah does a great job breaking down the entire scope of a crisis plan in this post, but I wanted to focus on the ones that were most important for small businesses.

Determine What Constitutes a Crisis

What’s the difference between negative feedback and a crisis?

Do you consider 3 angry comments a crisis? Or is it 10 comments?

Is an outcry against your customer service more important to address than frustration about your prices?  

Defining what a social media crisis looks like for your business helps you and everyone else on your team understand when it’s necessary to step in.

Prepare Pre-Approved Response Messaging, Images, and Information

A crisis never waits for a convenient time. Pre-approved external messaging allows you to respond quickly, while buying you enough time to thoroughly examine the situation and determine how best to proceed.

Your pre-approved responses should communicate 3 things:

  • Awareness of the situation
  • Empathy for anyone’s frustration
  • A timeline for follow-up action (you can determine if the timeline should be specific or general)

An Internal Communication and Action Plan

Make sure everyone on your team is aware of the situation and outline the best ways for them to respond. Even if you’re a company of one, use the action plan as a road map of where you need to spend your energy next. Include things like:

  • Phone calls to frustrated customers
  • Email communication to loyal customers who might hear about the situation
  • Discounts or giveaways to help ease the tension
  • Assessment of the crisis at 48 hours, 1 week, and 1 month
  • Recap the process to learn what worked and what didn’t

Don’t wait until a customer’s anger burns out of control to have a crisis plan. If you don’t have time to manage a controlled burn, you certainly won’t have time to survive a wildfire.

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