Doomsday prep:How to overcome a social media crisis in 5 steps

Alistair Roque Published on July 7, 2015

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No business can be spared from public criticism after committing even the smallest mistake. One wrong click, misspelled word, or insensitive post could lead to hundreds of hate comments or lost subscribers. Social networking sites, being highly volatile platforms, are common avenues for major public relations crises. The negative backlash from social media followers can easily ruin a brand s reputation in a matter of minutes.

A social media crisis, however, isn’t the end of your business. With the right crisis recovery plan, you can breeze through this online disaster and even gain a stronger brand reputation afterward. Here are some effective ways to save yourself from a social media disaster:

1. Investigate before you respond.

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Unless you re dealing with a minor problem, the first step to any crisis management strategy is never to respond quickly. You need to study first the situation and understand completely how the mistake took place. Never rush yourself in assessing the problem. You need to know the extent of the damage caused by the social media error and how much damage control you’ll be needing. This knowledge will help you in planning your response.

 

2. Remove the source of the problem.

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The longer the offensive material stays on your page, the more opportunities there will be for news outlets to pick up the news and talk about your mishap. More users can take a screenshot of it and share it to their own networks. The post should be deleted as soon as possible. This sends the message that you understand that the post was inappropriate and you’re now taking an action.

 

3. Acknowledge the mistake and apologize.

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Although you must delete the original post, you shouldn’t delete the comments and responses of users no matter how harsh they may sound. Dealing with criticism properly can never be accomplished by avoiding or eliminating messages. This will just aggravate the situation, since people will be provoked by your lack of direct response. Instead of deleting humiliating posts, respond to each comment sincerely. Explain why things went wrong, and personalize each apology you send to those who left messages.

 

4. Spread the word.

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Sending direct messages to some followers or responding to comments isn t enough. To prevent further damage, you must use available communication channels in making people understand the situation. Explain how you plan to troubleshoot the problem. By publishing your words of apology on your website, social media pages, and blog, you can reach more people, including bystanders and future visitors.

 

5. Go back and make a safety check.

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Once you ve solved the problem and publicly posted an apology, it s now time to step back and see how you can prevent the same problem from taking place again in the future. Assess all contributing factors to the problem. If something s not working properly, fix it. Come up with a more stringent moderation or publishing cycle. Materials should now be screened more thoroughly before being posted online. Conduct a test run and see if your new content creation cycle leads to better results and less mistakes.

Businesses should always be ready for major social media crises, since no one is safe from committing human errors. Long before a problem arises, you must have a crisis management plan in place. This will help you resolve the issue and recover from its damages faster. Although you can t predict what error you might commit, keeping these steps in mind will lead to better reputation management regardless of the situation and mistake done.

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