In order to respond to and overcome a social media crisis you need to first understand one. And in order to understand one, well, you need to have the right mindset.
It’s hard because many of us are still used to the “old mentality”. The mentality where we speak at our customers, not with them, and before anything gets published or released it must first go through a series of people or reviews. Today the reality of the matter is that by keeping this mindset it will only do one thing when you find yourself faced with a social media attack: cripple you.
Before you experience a negative comment, or worse, a social media crisis, you may want to brush up with this post to make sure that you’re empowering your team and enabling them to protect your brand, should a crisis inevitably happen.
If you’re an employee at a company that you feel is not adapting the right mindset quickly enough (because let’s face it, many companies are having a hard time letting go of the old ways that worked so well for them for so many years), then your first step may be to read this post, gather some simple ways to begin the process, and then sit down with upper management and see that you can’t show them the value behind today’s methods.
1- Trust your employees
This is something that many companies have difficulty with. Not because they don’t in fact trust their employees, but because they have a hard time letting go of the reins.
However, it is most definitely in your best interest to trust that the people you chose to be a part of your team truly do have your company’s best interest at heart, and that they’re responsible adults who can understand how to respond to the minor negativities, before they turn into full blown crises.
The best way to go about this is by empowering your employees. Write up a social media crisis policy as well as guidelines of how to respond and in which circumstances they’re permitted to respond, as well as in which circumstances the situation should be brought to management’s attention straight away. Then provide them with the training where you will teach them what to do under different circumstances, and what is expected of them.
Empowering and trusting your employees is the first step in adapting the right social media crisis mindset, and will prove itself very useful when you don’t have to shoulder the burden all by yourself during an attack.
2- Think and react in real-time
During a social media crisis there is no time for lawyers or management to take their time and review your statement or response strategy. Everything happens and needs to be done in real-time, and you need to begin to adapt this mentality straight away. Being present and active on social media before a crisis strikes will help you develop this skill, as will taking the time to think up different scenarios that may happen and how you would respond to each one.
3- Think like a publisher – not a marketer
The difference between publishing and marketing is that publishing is a process, a state of mind, not a project. It’s about providing your market with solutions to their problems, rather then bombarding them with sales pitches. It’s about focusing on quality over quantity and building real relationships with your customers and prospects. When you learn to think this way, once a crisis strikes, you will remember the values of those relationships, and understand the proper way to resolve the crisis at hand.
4- Understand that customers have a voice and expect them to use it
In the old days (which are not so far behind us), companies spoke at their audience and their audience had no choice but to listen and continue on with their day. Today, social media has turned the tables. Today it’s the customers who have the strongest voice, and us companies have no choice but to listen to them and do our best to connect and please. Today it’s about two-way communication strategies, and giving our customers a platform to express themselves – even when that means negatively expressing themselves in regards to the company.
The value behind the right mindset
The right mindset will not just help you through a social media crisis, but will help you better connect with your customers on an ongoing basis, which will propel your business into new heights for the long-term. Adapting the right mindset can be difficult when you’re so used to the “old ways” of marketing and thinking, but coming to terms with the fact that times are changing, and leveraging those changes in the many positive ways that are offered to us will prove to be very advantageous to your brand.
You don’t have to do this over night. It takes time to get used to and truly see and believe in the results, but start with baby steps right away. A crisis can break out at any moment, and if you’re going to overcome it with minimum repercussions to your brand, then you will need the right mindset and skill-set to do so.
What are your thoughts? Have a I missed a valuable point here? What strategies, techniques and exercises helped you adapt the right social media mindset the quickest? Be sure to share your thoughts and experiences in the comments section below!
Author of Crisis Ready: Building an Invincible Brand in an Uncertain World, Melissa Agnes is a leading authority on crisis preparedness, reputation management, and brand protection. Agnes is a coveted keynote speaker, commentator, and advisor to some of today’s leading organizations faced with the greatest risks. Learn more about Melissa and her work here.