5 Tips for dealing with a social media crisis

"When written in Chinese, the word “crisis” is composed of two characters. One represents danger and the other represents an opportunity." - John F. Kennedy

In today's’ business world a social media presence can either help build a brand or instantly damage the reputation and break down what took years to build. But how can you turn your social media crisis into an opportunity? The answer is simple. Focus on the fundamentals of crisis management at its core.

Crisis Management experts will tell you that to be prepared is the best advantage you will have in any war to come. What is also important is that you must distinguish between a real crisis from just plain negativity. To blow up something that could easily just come and go is to develop a crisis that wasn’t there, to begin with. So stop. Think about each situation. Start by taking these tips into consideration:

· Be prepared for any crisis and have a plan or crisis strategy in place. Develop and communicate a specific crisis plan for social media to your social media team and make sure to revisit the strategy regularly because social media platforms change fast.

· Listen and observe constantly. Social Media platforms are forever changing and they are also developing at a rapid pace. You need a dedicated person to oversee your social media presence. You need someone to listen and keep a look out for looming crisis. Although you get software that can assist you with this, your operator should know what to listen too, when to listen and what they need to identify as a potential crisis situation. It is better to spot the crisis way in advance than to be the last one to hear about it.

· When the crisis is identified, the first step is to immediately acknowledge that you are aware of the situation, even if you don’t have a clue. This will decrease the messages to spread like wild fire.

· Do a quick and thorough investigation and gather your information as quickly as possible. Speed and knowledge are the answers. Then go back to the social media platform, whether Facebook, Twitter etc., where the crisis started and respond first on that platform. Then work your way outward to all who were involved or picked up on the crisis situation.

· Respond with an apology. People forgive if they know your message is truthful, empathetic and sincere. People want to know you are feeling remorse and that you are seeking redemption.

These are just 5 tips for dealing with a social media crisis. Things like building a frequently asked question list and smart ways to turn your crisis into an opportunity are discussed at our Crisis Management course that The Mindspa Institute presents to corporates and all their departments.

It is important to remember that every employee is a potential spokesperson, so everyone needs to be well aware of what to do in a crisis situation. Be prepared and arm your employees with the right skills to deal with a crisis.

*The Mindspa Insitute offers soft skills training in a variety of fields. Visit our website www.themindspa.co.za or email [email protected] for more information. Our head offices are in Gauteng and Cape Town.