From the little corner cafe or the home-based brand-of-one, to the global corporation and the world renowned non profit organizations, these brands all have one thing in common: A social media crisis, which is a public form of a traditional crisis, attacks them all evenly. It doesn’t matter how big your brand is anymore, social media gives us all the same opportunities to be creative, stretch our reach and build our client list. These are the upsides and growing opportunities that we all know and love. However, at the same time, the reverse is also true. With the sweet comes the sour and a social media presence (and even a lack there of) can result in a very public, very viral social media attack.
The upside of the negative side, is that if you’re prepared with the right crisis plan, a social media crisis can be transformed from a negative situation into yet another positive brand opportunity. An opportunity to connect even further with your customers and prospects. An opportunity to launch your company way ahead of your competition. An opportunity to spread your brand name, in a positive light, globally, and if you’re lucky, virally!
So how does that happen? How does a social media crisis turn from a very public attack, into a positive PR opportunity?
There’s only one way, and that’s by being prepared with a social media crisis plan.
A social media crisis plan is a very powerful tool. It’s like being prepared for a fire by having fire drills. You never know when a fire may occur, but you know how important it is to be prepared for one. The same goes for a social media attack. You never know when one may strike, and if you’re extremely lucky, one never will, but it’s still important to be prepared if you want to come out of it with your reputation and client list still in tact.
So that leads us to the next question: What is a social media crisis plan?
You hear about them, you know that brands are preparing themselves with them and you know how important it is to protect your own brand with one. But what is it?
A social media crisis plan is, in other words a crisis communication strategy. Crises have not changed, but due to the power of social media, the rules for responding to one have.
Everything is now public. When a customer complains, both their and your followers have the opportunity to see and hear about what went wrong. When many many customers begin to complain – when a crisis is forming – the whole world has the potential of seeing it unfold and grow.
Being prepared with a social media crisis plan means knowing exactly how to respond to an attack, and how to resolve the situation in the least amount of time as possible. The right social media crisis plan allows you to:
- Detect a crisis as it’s happening, before it spirals out of control
- Understand how to respond to that negative criticism, in order to turn those unhappy customers into happy brand advocates
- Regain control of the situation, and your brand, with the right response strategy and techniques
- Comprehend exactly what your customers expect of you during a crisis
- Optimize your official response to attain maximum reach
- Leverage the powerful help of your still happy customers to come to your defense and help you regain control of the situation
- Turn the negativity of the attack into a positive PR opportunity for your brand
- Document and analyze the events of an attack to empower your brand for both future crises and future marketing campaigns
So as you can see, a social media crisis plan is an extremely powerful and beneficial tool for all companies and organizations to be equipped with. It can literally mean the difference between suffering irreparable brand damage and strengthening the relationships you share with your clients, while building new relationships with prospective clients.
You wouldn’t remain unprepared for the possibility of a fire in your home or your office building, so why would you remain unprepared for the possibility of a public attack on your brand?
Your social media crisis plan is your road map to responding to a crisis, no matter it’s magnitude, and regaining control of your brand in the least amount of time as physically possible, because that is after all the ultimate goal: To respond and resolve the crisis, and to come out of it with more happy and loyal customers then you had going in.
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.