How to Create a Social Media Crisis Plan

October 20, 2015

Every business and brand needs a social media disaster plan

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What’s This?

A social media presence provides a lot of benefits.  Having your brand on sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram allows for you to more easily talk to your consumers, building the kinds of relationships that will ensure the health of your product for years to come.  When something jeopardizes this, social media can quickly turn from a benefit to a major problem.  That is why you need to know what to do when you have a social media crisis.  To stop a potential social media fail (or to remedy one), lets take a moment to review things that you should know if and when the worse happens.  If you think they can’t happen, you are wrong. They’ve happened to companies like KitchenAid, DiGiorno’s and many more. They can happen to you too. As a final note, the considerations below are designed to restore the level of brand loyalty you had prior to the crisis occurring.

Timing Is Everything

Even with the best planning, things can go wrong.  Product recalls, inappropriate comments, and a myriad of other minor mistakes can quickly be blown of proportion if you are not ready.  That is why you must understand that timing is everything.  You need to address the problem quickly on social media. This is exactly what happened with GoGo Squeez. A customer posted a picture of moldy product. Instead of addressing the situation, the GoGo Squeez social media team chose to ignore the issue – and deleted the image. This further upset the customer who re-posted the image, wrote a longer post  about the situation…and the post went viral. The original post was from July 2014, and the image is still getting shares this year. The brand ignored and removed comments, hoping the whole thing would blow over, but it just grew and grew. It took them 11 days to actually respond, and the response was quite bland which served to convey the message that GoGo Squeez did not care about their clientele. While this may not be true, this is the message that went out. If you are faced with a similar issue, do not wait hope for the problem to blow over AND do not try to ignore it as this will only make the situation worse and destroy brand loyalty.  You want to act fast and say the right thing.  With that in mind, make sure you plan ahead. Be genuine and your community will understand.

Monitor Your Brand

This is of the utmost importance. While you may not be one of these huge brands who can afford to have multiple community managers on hand, you can easily monitor what is being said about your brand. For example, you can use a system like Google Alerts. They will keep you posted as to everything that is being said about your brand in real time.

Plan Ahead




No one likes to think about having a social media crisis, but it can happen and having a protocol in place can save you a great deal of time and even money if and when something occurs.

  1. Set up a hierarchy of who is in charge when an emergency occurs.
  2. Create a list in case someone is gone or away on vacation.
  3. Craft a general message that can be tweaked right before being sent out.

Doing this ahead of time will save you hours down the road.  Finally, create a set of rules for people to follow during the social media crisis.  With that in mind…

Make Sure Everyone Is On The Same Page

This is especially true when it comes to people working in public relations.  Your social media manager, as well as those responsible for picking up the phones or responding to messages, should all have the same response to questions when asked.  Control the message to stop the message from controlling you.

Respond to Comments

Do not ignore your community. You will need to respond to every single comment and message that comes your way. Yup…this is ttime-consuming but so much better than losing that client that is ignored.

See How Far The Social Media Crisis Spreads

Is the problem only linked to Facebook?  Are there issues being seen in other media.  Monitor the problem to make sure that you know exactly what kind of press coverage you are dealing with.

Stop Any And All Previous Marketing Campaigns

One of the best ways to stop a social media fail is to stop all previous marketing campaigns.  For example, the last thing you want to see during a product recall is an ad stating how trustworthy and reliable your brand is.  Cancel whatever you are doing will help to focus attention on the problem at hand as well as your response.  As customers will want to see you taking charge, they are looking for you for direction.  Stop any competing messages and resolve this problem first.

Be Straightforward And Honest

Last but not least, be straightforward and honest.  Do not delete negative comments, do not get into arguments with people online, and maintain a professional air.  Do not make the problem into its own unique story.  Instead, act quickly, be straightforward, and tell people what you know.  Show that you care and are taking steps and you will be surprised at how quickly a problem can blow over.

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