How to create a social media crisis management plan

by | Nov 4, 2022 | Public Relations

Social media has brought excellent opportunities for organizations, including brand building, direct customer engagement, a channel for market research, and many more. However, this dynamic tool has led to a great number of risks that many businesses aren’t prepared for.

Social media crises can strike at any time. It could be spelling mistakes, a lousy campaign, a faulty product, or a slip of the tongue. It doesn’t matter how popular you are or the industry you’re in. It just happens, and whatever the case, you need to be prepared.

In this guide, I’ll explore social media crisis management tips and their benefits and show you how to build a winning social media crisis management plan.

What does social media crisis mean?

A social media crisis is any social media activity that can potentially hurt your brand’s reputation or your ability to do business.

It can result from sharing or posting harmful, insensitive, offensive, or dangerous information. Crisis can also result from product fails, customer criticism, or employee errors and misconduct that are then spread on social media platforms making your brand make headlines for the wrong reasons.

Benefits of social media crisis management

When a social media crisis blows up in your organization, and you don’t have an effective crisis management plan in place, you’re likely to suffer disastrous and long-term effects. In the worst-case scenario, a social media crisis situation can knock you out of the business if the degree of damage is catastrophic. Using the best marketing tools combined with a social media crisis management strategy you can manage a crisis. Here are reasons why your business needs social media crisis management.

  • It helps you prepare for any unanticipated occurrence and prevent long-term damage.
  • It helps you maintain your reputation with competitors, customers, and industry leaders through direct messaging or commenting.
  • It boosts your staff’s productivity before, during, and after the crisis. In the midst of a crisis, your staff will understand their roles, resulting in more activity, less downtime, and fast resolution.
  • It enhances the well-being, safety, and health of the people who do business with your company.

How to build a winning social media crisis management plan

Did you know that an average person spends 147 minutes per day on social media? Now, picture this, your social media manager logs in to the wrong account, or your email threads are leaked to social platforms. The repercussions would be immediate!

Although you cannot predict a crisis, you can be prepared for it. And here’s how to create a social media crisis management strategy:

1. Identify the source of the problem

Identifying the source of the problem is the first step to creating a social media crisis management plan. Know what happened, who was involved, or when did the incident happen? Finding out the source of the problem will help you determine the correct response and the appropriate channels to distribute your response.

2. Categorize the issue as a crisis or problem

Depending on the severity of the incident, quantify it as a problem or crisis. For example, linking to the wrong blog post is a minor problem and definitely not a crisis. On the other hand, using a national catastrophe to promote your brand is a crisis category.

3. Respond promptly

Ignoring the situation will not make it go away. The quicker you act, the better. Did you know that approximately 46 percent of customers expect response to their issues within 4 hours? While approximately 12 percent expect a response within 15 minutes? Simply, acknowledge there’s a problem before things get out of hand.

How to create a social media crisis management plan

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4. Have a communication plan

Because social media crises aren’t reserved for large companies, all businesses require a social media crisis communication plan. Disseminate information to your staff and let them know there’s a crisis and how you’re planning to respond.

5. Practice social listening

Embrace social listening and understand how people are feeling about your brand. It can help you monitor conversations and spot the beginning of a crisis before it blows off.

6. Apologize if it’s the need of the hour

An apology should be the first thing you should say to the public in any crisis management statement. It should sound authentic, reassuring, and sincere. This implies that your customers are in your thoughts. Be keen not to make excuses, blame others or overpromise.

5 social media crisis management tips for businesses and brands:

The role of social media in crisis management cannot be overemphasized. No business wants to be in the middle of a social media crisis, but every business needs to be prepared. So, how do you respond to a social media crisis if it’s already at your doorstep? I’ll walk you through this difficult time and offer you tips for handling it.

1. Get your team together

While each member of your staff is essential, they can’t play a role in the crisis management team if you don’t assign them their roles. Therefore, ensure you get a team of dedicated and responsible fast responders, with each having their dedicated role. You’ll need a blend of executive personnel (to impose decisions), a management team for coordination, and a creative team to craft the right and correct message. Oh! And probably a lawyer!

How to create a social media crisis management plan

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2. Keep the internal communication moving

Prepare internal and external communication. Keep your employees updated on what’s going on and how you are handling the crisis. Ensure you constantly communicate with your crisis management team, but don’t nag them.

3. Put scheduled posts on pause

With all panic and fuss, you can easily forget your social media post queues. Therefore, pause any pre-scheduled posts until everything has cooled down. Some pre-scheduled posts can damage your brand further and thwart all your crisis management efforts.

4. Be sympathetic while speaking with commenters

While some comments may be negative, respond to them calmly and resolve any heated discussions. Don’t argue, respond angrily, or defend yourself in any way- your customers may doubt your sincerity.

5. Monitor what people say about your company

Get a social media monitoring tool to know what’s being said about your brand, when, and where. You’ll need to analyze large amounts of data and get real-time updates to draw conclusive decisions.

Pro tip: Creating an efficient social media crisis management plan starts with improving your social media marketing strategy, and checking the latest statistics and trends is the perfect starting point.

How to create a social media crisis management plan

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The bottom line

Social media is an ideal tool for crisis management. Taking the bold step of drafting a social media crisis management plan is crucial for avoiding and tackling future potential crises.

While controlling social media crises can be stressful, if you’re prepared with the best action plan you’ll respond swiftly with no dire consequences.

To manage any social media crisis effectively, you need to be ready and maintain your composure during the crisis, and interact with your audience.

If you follow the above tips, you’ll have a social media crisis management plan that’s ready to test and give you effective results.

Shweta Gupta
Shweta Gupta is a growth marketing specialist who is working with 2xSaS. She creates content that converts website visitors into paying customers for SaaS companies. In her free time, she likes driving around the city & hanging out with her friends.


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