3-min read: Crisis Management on Social Media
No one likes a crisis, but it does come, most of the time unpredictably. In an era when people use social media for everything from work to daily communication, social media crisis management has certainly evolved and become more tricky - if not stressful. As an event, PR and marketing agency, we are no stranger to crisis situations, be it a weather or political issue; but before talking about the how-tos, first let us look at two facts about this “unfavourable subject”:
Crisis, Not Crisis. A crisis is not, or not yet, a disaster. If handled properly and timely, a crisis could sometimes turn into an opportunity and bring you (your client) closer to the target audience. If not, however, it’d become a tornado and the impact could be way beyond your imagination. In tackling crisis, “properly” and “golden time” are the keywords.
The Modern Audience. Messages spread at lightning speed on social media across platforms (e.g. within an hour from Twitter to Facebook to Instagram). The users are therefore trained to be good (if not great) at expressing themselves - they have no hesitation in showing emotions in their comments before sharing it to EVERYWHERE. The flood of information also means that your audience are likely to do fact checking. Your audience, real identity often hidden, could be from anywhere and any background, so do not underestimate the amount of sources they can get hold of. With these two fundamental understandings, now let’s go back to the keywords:
1. “Properly”. For any handling of social media crisis to be called “proper”, it has to be done with preciseness and sincerity. Get all the facts from your client. Pick the ONE fact that the public care the most and work out ALL possible solutions around this fact. Then pick ONE solution, and stick with that ONE fact throughout all responses. While preparing a post or reply, write like you mean it, using the most accurate, simple language (try to limit to 50 words). Don’t lie or try to fool your audience - remember, they are very good at fact checking.
2. “Golden Time”. From the moment the crisis is first exposed to the public via whichever platform, the best time to provide a “proper response” is within 24 hours, ideally within 12 hours and maximum 48 hours. If any response has to be made only after 48 hours, I would advise the client to reconsider it or opt for another solution. Missing the golden time will let the crisis move exponentially towards the worse end, aka a disaster.
The last piece of advice from me: What Happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas. If the crisis starts on Facebook, never post your response on Instagram, for example. The demographics and views of users vary tremendously from platform to platform, so a Facebook crisis may not be a Twitter crisis. That being said, always use the one and only one response across all platforms - you certainly won’t want to see a new crisis arise from new terminology, new interpretation.