7 Best Practices for your Social Media Crisis Mode (Part One)

Communicating effectively is a crucial part to any position. Whether you are talking to a coworker, your boss, your spouse, or the public, it can be a confounding concept for many people. As marketing experts, it’s our duty to be able to communicate concisely, effectively, and in a way that entices, intrigues, and delights.

That idea can be further complicated by social media, especially when something doesn’t go as planned. We’ve covered the topic of social media extensively in the past, but join us today as we begin the first part of our series of best practices during a social media crisis, with some guidance offered by Jonathan Bevis, director of marketing for Cook Portable Warehouses!

So you’ve entered crisis mode—a situation has developed that could end up with a lot of angry customers. Whether you’re a Fortune 500 company or a mom & pop startup just down the road, the rules largely remain the same.

1. Own the conversation, and own the mistake.

Many people flock to the social media page of a brand when something unpleasant happens, and when they do they’re more prone to write a nasty review or negative comment on that brand’s profile. It’s a sticky situation to be on the defensive, but there is always a right and wrong way to go about handling it.

Too often we see small brands using social media as a shield and sword, rather than an olive branch. If your company made a mistake, it’s okay to admit fault. However, an “I’m sorry” is often not enough.

Jonathan says:

“It isn’t enough to simply apologize. You must be ready to investigate the customer’s complaint and offer a solution. There will be times when the customer’s complaint is legitimate. Regardless of how passionate you are or how well you do your job, everyone makes mistakes and there will come a time when you’ll have to admit that you’re wrong in front of the whole world, and that’s okay.

Customers are also human and they will, in most cases, forgive a mistake if you take steps to make it right. It is important to remember that your followers, especially followers who have no prior experience with your company, are watching your customer interactions closely. The way you handle criticism on social media can have a dramatic impact on the way your brand is perceived.

Admitting your mistake in front of your followers is a little frightening but it is absolutely essential to gaining their trust and making them feel comfortable doing business with you.”


2. Act quickly, and decisively.

When a brand makes a misstep, whether it’s on social media or in the real world, it doesn’t take long for the masses of fans and followers to make their opinions known. Every crisis plan (which every business should have) needs to be ready to go without hesitation. The impact social media has can be global in potential, controlling the conversation always begins with a prompt response.

Jonathan says:

“I believe the speed with which you address a customer’s concern is extremely important and presents an opportunity for you to shatter their expectations. Managing a successful social media account is a 24/7 responsibility. Just because I’m out of the office, doesn’t mean my customers are taking a break from social engagement. In fact, most of our traffic & social engagement occurs during the hours I am typically out of the office.

Because I manage social media streams for a multi-million dollar company with a large reach, I am never more than a few feet from a mobile device with the ability to respond to a customer. My cell phone is set to provide an audible alarm anytime someone comments on our Facebook or Twitter feeds. It is very common for me to engage with customers during the evening hours or on weekends. There have been several occasions in which I have gotten out of bed to respond to a customer on Facebook or Twitter. If I happen to hear the notification, I will engage the customer immediately.

Do you think a customer expects any company, large or small, to answer their question at 11:30 on a Tuesday night or at 2pm on a Saturday? The answer is no. When you exceed their expectations, it allows you to gain credibility with the customer and begin to own the conversation.

That’s all for now! Join us next time for part two of our best practices during a social media crisis.