3 Ways To Prepare For A Social Media Brand Crisis

A social media brand cri­sis is inevitable. Hav­ing a cri­sis man­age­ment strat­e­gy in place now will help pro­tect your brand’s rep­u­ta­tion lat­er.

Victoria Edwards By Victoria Edwards from Florida Blue. Join the discussion » 0 comments

All brands at some point will go through a cri­sis (or sev­er­al of them) and it’s inevitable that your brand’s social media will play some part in it. From inform­ing your cus­tomer of the inci­dent to mon­i­tor­ing var­i­ous plat­forms to watch out for var­i­ous items regard­ing the event, your social media team needs to be edu­cat­ed and kept abreast of all infor­ma­tion that is going on dur­ing a cri­sis.

If your social media team isn’t trained or aware of a cer­tain sit­u­a­tion, you could seri­ous­ly put not only your brand’s rep­u­ta­tion in jeop­ardy, but could also be ignor­ing a large amount of your con­sumers who com­mu­ni­cate heav­i­ly with­in social media.

Sit­u­a­tions can explode so quick­ly online. A brand cri­sis is bound and going to hap­pen. Rep­u­ta­tions can be dam­aged in real-time.

Let’s look back at the way one recent social media cri­sis played out online for piz­za chain Papa John’s. Then we’ll explore three ways brands can pre­pare and han­dle them­selves dur­ing a cri­sis.

The Backstory

Recent­ly pop star Iggy Aza­lea used Twit­ter to blast Papa John’s in a series of tweets. The media was quick­ly all over the sto­ry. What hap­pened?

A cou­ple days after a new Papa John’s deliv­ery per­son had dropped off some cheesy good­ness to Aza­lea’s house, she began receiv­ing calls and text mes­sages from phone num­bers she did­n’t rec­og­nize. Come to find out the new piz­za deliv­ery per­son had indeed shared her phone num­ber with sev­er­al peo­ple he knew.

When Aza­lea reached out to the man­ag­er of that branch, he said he would take care of the sit­u­a­tion and place that employ­ee on per­ma­nent leave. That did­n’t hap­pen. Instead, the man­ag­er reached out to the employee’s moth­er so she could rep­ri­mand the son.

Aza­lea quick­ly fired back at Papa John’s for the lack of pro­fes­sion­al­ism in han­dling the sit­u­a­tion:

A short time after, the senior vice pres­i­dent of the chain reached out to the Aza­lea, apol­o­gized, and quick­ly rec­ti­fied the sit­u­a­tion.

Exter­nal­ly, this prob­a­bly wasn’t viewed as a huge cri­sis for the brand, but from an inter­nal brand per­spec­tive, it prob­a­bly was because the whole inci­dent played out on social media, where poten­tial­ly mil­lions of peo­ple were watch­ing. Com­pa­nies must always be care­ful of how they con­duct, respond and inform them­selves, not only in press releas­es or web copy, but also in social media.

3 Ways Brands Can Prepare & Handle Themselves During a Crisis

1. Develop Standard Operating Procedures (SOP)

If your brand or busi­ness hasn’t cre­at­ed one of these doc­u­ments, then this is a good place to start. An SOP con­tains var­i­ous pro­to­cols and pro­ce­dures that gov­ern the use and main­te­nance of social media plat­forms and how employ­ees should con­duct them­selves online when rep­re­sent­ing your com­pa­ny.

Some items you can include in this doc­u­ment:

  • How employ­ees should con­duct them­selves online.
  • A flow­chart or doc­u­ment of triag­ing when it comes to com­ment­ing or respond­ing to your cus­tomer or audi­ence.
  • Time­frames with regards to response time and how long it will take for your com­mu­ni­ty man­ag­er to respond to an inquiry.
  • The review process for con­tent that you post with­in social media plat­forms.

Map­ping these items in a detailed man­ner will only help prep your com­mu­ni­ca­tions and social media team so they can han­dle them­selves con­sis­tent­ly online. The SOP can also help mit­i­gate var­i­ous sit­u­a­tions before they get out of hand.

2. Inform Your Company of the Crisis

While mem­bers of your social media or com­mu­ni­ca­tions team will be aware of a devel­op­ing or full-blown brand cri­sis, you should nev­er assume that every­one with­in your com­pa­ny knows. Edu­cate your employ­ees about the sit­u­a­tion and com­mu­ni­cate any updates as they occur.

Send­ing out a com­pa­ny-wide email or updat­ing your intranet is prob­a­bly the most effec­tive way to inform your employ­ees. When your com­mu­ni­ca­tions team does meet regard­ing a cer­tain cri­sis or event, it’s imper­a­tive that your social media team is includ­ed, as they are the peo­ple who direct­ly com­mu­ni­cate with your cus­tomers in real time.

3. Develop Talking Points

While your employ­ees may be well aware of what is going on when it comes to a cri­sis, it’s impor­tant to share with those peo­ple how to respond to the sit­u­a­tion in per­son and online. Devel­op­ing con­tent in the form of video, a press release, or a blog should be reviewed to make sure that the infor­ma­tion is con­sis­tent and infor­ma­tive.

Oth­er things you can include in your talk­ing points are:

  • Pre-con­struct­ed social media posts or tweets about the sit­u­a­tion.
  • A brief sum­ma­ry of the sit­u­a­tion.
  • Fre­quent­ly asked ques­tions and answers about what is going on.

Dur­ing any brand cri­sis, it’s impor­tant that you do your best to keep your cus­tomers informed and edu­cat­ed about the sit­u­a­tion. No mat­ter how big or small your com­pa­ny is, you’re bound to run into var­i­ous lev­els of inci­dences.

On social media, you brand or busi­ness must do its best to be human, apolo­getic, and sin­cere. Ignor­ing or fail­ing to mon­i­tor social media com­ments dur­ing a cri­sis will reflect poor­ly on you.

Victoria Edwards

Written by Victoria Edwards

Digital Content Strategist, Florida Blue

Victoria has been working in online marketing for the past 10ξyears, with specific focus in Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Social Media and Content Marketing. She is currently the Digital Content Strategist for Florida Blue. In her position she focuses on content development, management and optimization on their various sites, in addition to SEO, and social media marketing.

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