Build Your Social Media Crisis Management Plan in 10 Steps

Build Your Social Media Crisis Management Plan in 10 Steps. Download and share this with your team, to be sure you’re ready to respond effectively. Who will manage social media and respond to questions? Despite your best intentions, you can’t monitor everything every spokesperson or social media manager says and posts. Whether or not you use Mention, you need to be clear on three matters: What tool(s) will you use to monitor for brand crises? Who is responsible for the management of the tool? During a crisis 6. After a social media crisis 7. Hopefully, you won’t get another opportunity for some time, so this is the time to make changes. Make the necessary fixes to ensure your crisis management plan is as good as it needs to be.

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A communications crisis can strike at any time. It could be a faulty product, a lousy campaign, or a slip of the tongue from someone higher up.

It doesn’t matter the industry you’re in, or how popular you’ve been to this point. Sometimes, it just happens.

Whatever the case, you need to be prepared. If you’re going to put out a fire, you need a good hose:

Get the tools to extinguish a social media crisis
Get the tools to extinguish a social media crisis

So we’ve put together this 10-step guide to get you ready. Make sure you’ve done everything you need to before disaster strikes.

We’ve also put these steps into a crisis management workbook. Download and share this with your team, to be sure you’re ready to respond effectively.

Before the event

1. Get your crew together

While every staff member is important, they can’t all be part of your crisis management team. Put together a group of responsible responders, each with their dedicated role.

You need a good mix of executive personnel (to enforce decisions), management (to coordinate), and creatives (to craft the right message).

Oh, and a lawyer probably helps.

As you build your team, answer the following questions:

  • Who will take ownership for the overall strategy – assigning tasks and ensuring the team stays on target?
  • Who is responsible for identifying and monitoring potential crises?
  • Who’s going to inform management and/or key stakeholders?
  • Who will manage social media and respond to questions?
  • And who will be handling messages that come in through other channels?
  • Which executive will act as a spokesperson for the media?

Get these roles straightened out while you have time to plan. Next, it’s time to think about what sorts of crisis you might possibly face.

2. Define “a crisis”

You need to decide the kinds of events that will kick your new plan into action. Not every piece of bad news or negative headline should force you to go “code red.”

For this, you’ll need a working definition of a crisis.

According to Jay Baer, a social media crisis has three characteristics:

  • Information asymmetry: When you don’t know any more than the public about what’s going on.
  • A change from the norm: Everyday criticism of your products is not a crisis. When your products explode at random – that’s a crisis.
  • Serious risk to your company: It seems obvious, but the scope of the issue is important. For something to be a crisis, it needs to have a truly negative effect.

With your new team, set benchmarks and find real examples of what qualifies as a crisis. An added benefit of this is that you’ll identify potential weaknesses you otherwise might not have thought about.

Since every company is different, it’s a matter of creating a definition that works for you. Once you’ve done that, you can begin thinking about key steps to take during an event.

3. Identify your key message

How you react publicly during a crisis is likely to define your success. You could have a great plan and a smart team, but if the message is wrong you’ve got no chance.

You can’t plan your specific response yet, since you don’t know what the crisis is. Instead, establish your core values as a company, and your main value proposition to customers. Whatever your response during the tough times, these should be central.

Why is this important?

Things will be moving at a mile a minute. Despite your best intentions, you can’t monitor everything every spokesperson or social media manager says and posts.

What you can ensure is that they convey the most important information. If you remind customers why they came to you in the first place, you have a far better chance of keeping them around.

4. Create communication guidelines

Once you’re clear on the basic message, you need to decide how to deliver it. That means creating guidelines so that anyone writing a social media post knows what’s expected of them.

To get ready for a crisis, do the following:

  • Determine rules for communicating with key stakeholders and executives.
  • Set network-specific guidelines for communicating on social media (since you’ll have different content and format considerations for each).
  • Decide on a process for communicating updates via your website and other online company channels not covered by social media.
  • Create guidelines for employees outside of the crisis communications team advising how to respond to inquiries.

To ensure you’re even more prepared, craft some basic templates. The first of these should be a brief, general statement of the company’s position. You also need sample answers to the obvious questions you know you’ll receive.

This is your best opportunity to set the tone you’ll…

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