Don’t Forget Social Media During a Crisis

We often hear about the promotional advantages social media brought to the marketing arena, too. Social media is no longer just for teens, tweens and young adults. In the event of a serious company crisis or event, social media has proven itself an effective tool for crisis communication.

Every company should have a crisis communications plan, in which social media should be incorporated. Let’s review the basics of crisis management, then tie in how you can use social media in the process.

Be timely.

You reaction to a crisis should be immediate, especially when injury, illness, ethics or death is involved. The quicker you can gain control of the situation, and more importantly the perception of the situation, the better able you are at maintaining your image. Bad news never gets better with age, so act quickly.

Be honest.

In the long-term, “spin” or doctored facts never restore a respected reputation. Honesty proves to both the media and consumers that you’re able to take responsibility for the issue at hand and you intend to fix it.

Work with the media.

In the midst of your crisis, you must keep information flow to the media at the top of your priority list. Reporters have an important job to do too, and you benefit most when they receive the most current information about your situation and how you’re handling it. Think (quickly, though) before you speak and the way that you phrase ideas. In today’s age, social media allows a different approach to informing the media, which we’ll address in a minute.

Prepare for the future.

Often forgotten but extremely important are your lessons learned. No crisis communications plan is perfect, and you’ll definitely gain new insights into how you, your organization and your target audiences respond to the actions you took. Do an honest evaluation—ask a colleague from another firm to help—and use the crisis as a learning experience.

Social media can be an important tool in achieving these basics of crisis communications. Use social media to:

  • Control the flow of inquiries toward the correct, unfiltered information;>
  • Provide immediate updates on any progress that’s being made;
  • Open a channel for transparent communication between your target audiences and your company;
  • Allow respected leaders within the company to reach out directly to the public to explain details of what happened and the firm’s response;
  • Gauge and manage consumer perception of the issue and your handling; and
  • Gain insight into the situation based on the viewpoint of who matters most: your customers.
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