As we set a course for the new year, we hope to achieve our goals and avoid harmful storms. In marketing, we create expansive plans to promote our business by telling stories, connecting with our audiences, and increasing our influence. But what about unforeseen events and negative stories? Yikes. Maybe you believe your business is neutral and non-political, but the first thing to do in preparing for a crisis is to understand that your business is not crisis-proof.
A digital marketing agency, like Tomo360, can help you with Social Media Crisis Communications. Before a crisis, it’s important to prepare a crisis management and response plan – and execute it if the need ever arises. Having a plan can help your business during the emotional and confusing moments of a crisis. A Social Media Marketing team can also help you detect that a crisis is brewing. When you have a team actively monitoring your social media profiles, they will be the first to notice trouble and bring it to your attention.
If you are a technology company, your plan will differ from that of retail business or non-profit. However, all Crisis Communications & Response Plans do share a lot of the same elements:
- Assess the Situation. Social media backlash has whipped many businesses. It can start with a video, a link to a political news story, employee/owner activities or crimes, or product issues. Companies have even been called out on social media for advertising on certain platforms. Many boycotts are organized via social media.
A crisis can also be an actual physical emergency, like a fire, flood, or storm. Determine what kind of predicament you have and what the customer concerns may be. Consider how all audiences may be affected.
- Determine how your organization’s values can be restated during the crisis. Also, decide if you need to take action. Actions, more than statements, will reveal the character of your organization. If an apology is needed, prepare an apology. If information during an emergency needs to be shared, set-up a response team to make it happen.
- Communicate with your top audiences. Focus your attention on your treasured customers, suppliers, employees, and donors. If an immediate message can be shared that will reaffirm your values and alleviate concerns, post it as soon as possible. Case studies regarding crisis management frequently illustrate how a lack of response is a harmful blunder that many companies make.
- Customize your communications for each channel. It’s fine to strike a commanding corporate tone for a press release and on the website. Keep in mind that your social media followers will expect a more intimate and friendly communication. A formal statement in a personal feed will come across as “off” at best and tone-deaf at worst.
Using Your Adult Voice & Reacting Wisely
Don’t waste time and energy responding to individual attacks on social media. Ignore rage comments and trolls. Things to consider before posting during a crisis:
- Transparency: Don’t try to veil facts or shift blame.
- Tone: Be sincere and heartfelt.
- Sources: Rely on facts and use trusted sources.
- Timeliness: Be quick about it!
Communicate for as Long as is Needed
How long should crisis communication continue? For as long as your audiences need updates – and that may be much longer than you think. Continue to acknowledge the needs and concerns of this audience. Update them often and provide follow-up reports for as long as they will be interested.
- Communicate throughout the crisis. The status of the crisis will change. Hey! Maybe it will get better. Or, maybe your best spokesperson will have to make a statement because it’s not getting better. Either way, update your top audiences.
Even a Crisis Can Be a Moment to Shine
A crisis is an opportunity to put your values into action and to build trust with customers and other audiences. A focus on strategy and messaging should not take priority over sincere and immediate messages.
As momentum builds in a crisis, your audiences will temporarily swell as all eyes and ears will be on you. While the nature of the event may be negative, the overall outcome of the crisis does not have to be entirely damaging for your organization.