Social media has become a powerful tool transformed how the world communicates, creates, and shares ideas, knowledge and information. It also plays a big role in the build up, but also the dawn of corporate and individual reputations.
At the same time, social media is far from being a bad influence. Social media as a tool can be leveraged to overcome brand reputation crisis and to prevent them from happening. Speed, virility, and easiness make social media one of the best channels to manage a crisis nowadays.
Every company is operating under the risk that a reputation crisis may escalate quickly. All communication channels remain relevant, but the one where news travels fastest is social media. It’s at a point where a social media-ready crisis communication strategy is a necessity.
What is a Social Media Crisis?
You may be asking yourself what represents a social media crisis. A couple of tweets with negative mentions about your brand or product should not be construed as a crisis. Businesses have happy and disgruntled customers every day in both the B2B and the B2C industries. However, an unusual volume of messages related to a specific topic or a social media hashtag with negative connotation mentioning your brand may indicate a social media crisis.
A social media crisis can be spotted by looking at the following:
- Information asymmetry: the public knows more than your communication team about a specific issue related to your brand.
- Behavioural change: A new line of criticism, unrelated to the ones the company faces, appears.
- Complexity: The situation calls for decisions made at the top level of management.
- Reach: the news is a trending media topic.
The crisis may have been triggered on social media, on a company post or someone else’s post where your brand is mentioned accompanied by negative comments. A situation may also arise somewhere in one of your offices and become viral on social media. Either way, accountability, honesty and speed are essential to effectively managing a social media crisis.
The most basic recommendation is to acknowledge the issue and your responsibility when your brand is at the core of the issue. You need to address the situation with the help of a well-crafted and careful statement. When the cause of the crisis is external, for instance a financial crisis, the intervention of authorities, the occurrence of natural disasters — analyze your position and how you can deliver the best public response that can alleviate both the media and the general public’s concerns. Don’t keep the silence for too long.