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How do you handle social media in a crisis?

Created: 14 May 2013 • 1 comment
Christy Loerzel's picture
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In today’s business environment, companies move at a rapid pace to provide customers with the best products and services—especially on social media. In times of a national or worldwide crisis when an event dominates online conversations, you need to be conscientious of what your company says on social channels—your own and others. A tweet that promotes your brand or uses inappropriate language during a sensitive situation can result in backlash from your customers, which could not only impact your reputation, but also affect sales.

To maintain a positive social image and relationship with customers, here are five social media best practices to consider during a crisis:

  1. Review scheduled posts immediately. If you use a system to schedule posts in advance, review scheduled posts from both corporate and personal accounts immediately. Don’t use inappropriate words for the situation and avoid communications that could be considered insensitive or capitalizing on a tragedy. It’s wise to discontinue traditional business social messages the day of a crisis as well.
  2.  Look for guidance from leadership on how to proceed. Typically companies appoint someone to lead the charge in a crisis. This person coordinates responses across social channels and the company takes this lead’s direction before posting anything. When relevant, this individual provides an approved message to be issued on social channels, even if it’s only a “holding statement.” In most cases, it isn’t appropriate to proactively put a statement out on social media.

           Companies should consider if the crisis has a direct and unique impact on customers. If there is an impact, consider alternative channels to
           distribute the statement—as you know, social media is one communications vehicle and a corporate blog or reactive statement (i.e. when asked)
           may be more appropriate.

  1. Real-time monitoring and listening. Listen to conversations taking place on social channels. By being clued in to the latest crisis developments, you’ll be able to assess how the situation impacts you, your industry and your customers, and when the dialogue has moved on.
  2. Evaluate the situation. Wait until enough details are available—often early details are inaccurate. How, and if, you respond to an event depends on the amount your employees, customers and other stakeholders are affected. Remember, don’t express opinions and judgments or retweet/share the news surrounding the event. Avoid posting promotions or touting product as this can be seen as disrespectful. If your audience is affected, messages of support can be appropriate, but be sensitive and genuine in your messaging.
  3. Monitor the crisis. Once you formally evaluate the situation and decide how to handle it, monitor the situation closely for new developments. Assess the situation for the next 72 hours and resume posting after you feel the crisis has passed. Use common sense to ensure your content is sensitive to the situation and your customers.

Whether we like it or not, crises happen, and if you manage your company’s social media it’s important to be prepared to react quickly. Be human, be sensitive and your customers will respect you for it.

Does your company have a social media crisis plan in place? We’d love to hear from you. Share your thoughts with the Symantec partner community here or on our Facebook or Twitter accounts or LinkedIn group and page.

See the complete Symantec Partner Social Media Series.

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James L's picture

Hey Christy

You cover fantastic point for social media marketing. thanks for sharing such a nice information. I am totally agree with you that nowdays social media become more importants for every big or small company to create brand and analysis the industry people trends. Social Media helps lots to share your brand with industry people on real time..

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