How to use social media to manage a crisis

When you think of Social Media, I bet you think of socialising with friends and marketing opportunities for your business. However, social media can be a good tool to use when managing a business crisis. A crisis is classed as anything from a broken website to negative publicity. In this article, we will look at ways in which you can use social media to manage these crises.

Firstly, let’s look at how social media works for your image. Social media is like word of mouth but on a much larger scale. More and more people are turning to social media to pass on recommendations. Even Facebook has a recommendation post type for those looking for opinions on businesses. Google has integrated social media in to its search results, making your social media image even more important. Its social search lists real-time conversations from social media, especially with the use of hashtags in front of business names. If your business is being bad mouthed online, then it will unfortunately show on the front page of Google under a simple search. On the upside the social search will show also show positive news about your business, such as new products or awards won.

So how can social media help when a crisis hits? One way is simple – by providing an avenue in which to communicate directly with your customers, potential customers and those who have an interest with your business.

Keep on top

Social media is fast paced, and if you take your time you risk your business’ reputation. It is essential to monitor any mentions or reviews of your business and react to them efficiently. Waste no time in letting customers know if there is an issue, then keep them appraised along the way.

The sooner you engage with customers regarding the issue and show you are dealing with it the more likely customers are going to trust you care about them. Provide regular updates, even if there is nothing new to report, customers will still appreciate the consideration. Even if you are focused on the issue at hand, replying to customers’ questions must also be a priority. Statistics show that 77% of Twitter users feel better about a brand when they have replied to their tweet.

Take control

If the crisis is a case of negative publicity, you need to take control of the conversation as quick as possible. Once an issue has been identified you need to quickly assure the source, and your customers, that the issue is being looked in to. Assign a hashtag to keep everyone on track to the outcome. The use of hashtags will also allow you to track any other further remarks and comments made by people regarding the issue. Take the recent boycotting of Starbucks. The use of #BoycottStarbucks was started after Starbucks issued a statement following Trumps travel ban. However, the hashtag was turned around with users using the hashtag instead for tweets mentioning the lower lines due to less racists in them. Eventually another hashtag was introduced in support by Starbucks employees and loyal customers. Although this was controlled by their customers, businesses can still take control. Issuing a non-defensive statement across the social media platforms in response and offering solutions, rather than ignoring it altogether.

Be consistent

Keep the message the same across all platforms. If you can create a single thread, or blog post that provides regular more detailed updates and direct followers to it. This way the information is controlled and customers can keep track of it all. Customers can see the clear path from the rising of the issue to solution, identifying the steps your business has taken to resolve the issue. Thus aiding in building trust between you and your customers.

Stay cool in a crisis

A crisis is not predicted, and can happen when you least expect it, it is not necessarily due to actions of the business itself. There will always be some commentators who will continue to stay negative, or even share false and misleading information. The key is to not lash out at them, even though it is very tempting. As long as you are providing up to date information regularly, and responding to followers’ comments with as much information as you can provide the negative commentators will fade into the background.

Social media is a beneficial tool for your business when used correctly, and very public. There will always be some negativity around how you handle a crisis but it is possible to turn those negative comments around. Stay communicating with followers, be honest and consistently kind to handle any crisis that befalls your business.