15 Steps to Handling a Social Media Crisis

Social media crises pop up all more often than you think. Sometimes they are preventable and avoidable, while other times they are completely outside your control. Yet once a crisis begins to surface, it's best to save the prevention talk for later and move into crisis management mode.

Handling a crisis on social media using traditional crisis management steps, such as releasing a statement crafted by a public relations firm, is no longer going to cut it. But just because you can't revert to the old ways, doesn't mean there isn't a new form of crisis management at your disposal. Here are the ways in which you can help quell a social media crisis.

Step 1. Admit that there's an issue via a statement on your blog or website.

Step 2. Share this admission on your social channels.

Step 3. Update your social channels regularly even if you don't have a solution yet ("We're working on the problem").

Step 4. Have a team devoted to listening around the clock for new issues that may arise. Empower them to respond as necessary.

Step 5. Listen to how people are reacting to the initial crisis and base your response on that.

Step 6. Answer questions and explain the issue. Educate and go beyond "We're sorry."

Step 7. Transparency, transparency, transparency. There's no such thing as being too honest.

Step 8. Listen to how people are reacting to your responses and update your further responses on that.

Step 9. Listen to the entire web, not just Facebook and Twitter.

Step 10. Create an open forum. Don't block Facebook posts or make your Twitter handle private.

Step 11. Reach out individually to influencers. Explain the situation so that they can blog your response to their audience.

Step 12. Speak in simple terms (not corporate speak).

Step 13. @Tag people on Facebook, @mention people on Twitter, respond directly to users on forums, etc. Make sure you are responding to people individually, as many as you can, to truly show you care.

Step 14: Report on the social media mentions, engagement, etc. with social media monitoring tools.

Step 15. Once the issue is resolved, take a look back and write a case study on the experience.
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