How to Avoid Social Media Crisis Malik Velani February 1, 2016 Social Media “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.” ~ Warren Buffet I always tell them my clients, “I will try to give you the best possible social media crisis management strategy, but I hope you never have to use it.” It is good to have a crisis management plan, but it is more important to know how to avoid crisis. In this blog post, I will discuss 5 steps I suggest to my clients to avoid a major social media crisis. 1. Join the Social Media Platform that Best Fits Your Business It’s tempting to join every platform and sometimes it is hard to choose. Being on too many platforms can be overwhelming and hard to manage. Before setting up an account you should take a moment to reflect on the platform and evaluate if it makes sense to your business, aligns with your goals and strategy, and talks to your audience. Here are some questions to consider before choosing a platform: Who is your audience and which platforms do they use? What are the pros and cons of the platform? Does the platform resonates with your company’s culture? Do you have the resources to manage the platform? Does joining this platform meets your organization’s strategic goal? 2. Dedicated Social Media Management Team It is important to have a team of social media gurus to manage the day to day digital affairs. The social media team decides the strategy, the organizational tone, and the content schedule. There should be a team lead to approve all the posts before they go live. No one should be able to post content without the approval of the lead. Some companies outsource their social media to agencies, the content created by them should also be approved before it goes online. There should be a full time community manager to monitor all online communications and respond to inquiries in a timely manner, preferably within 60 minutes. When an employee leaves the company, it is the team lead’s responsibility to revoke their social media access from company’s accounts. The lead is also responsible for changing the passwords (preferably every quarter) and sharing the information with the executives who can assume the responsibilities in their absence. It is a misconception that small businesses do not need a social media team. The team might not be as well structured as for some of the large organizations, but the basics remain the same. The team lead in this case can be the business owner or they could hire an experienced social media manager who will look after the day to day social media activities and is well rehearsed in managing an upcoming brand and dealing with obstacles and online negativity. 3. Monitor Monitor online conversations closely. Be heedful of your business’ presence online. If people are talking about your brand, you should know about it. Keep track of your brand’s activities and mentions on social media. This might seem overwhelming, but it is quite simple and can be done using social media management tools such as Hootsuite and TweetDeck. Monitoring can be done by adding keywords in the tool and when someone uses those words/terms you will get a notification. For example, for Social Infinity some of the keywords to monitor would be: “Social Infinity” “SocialInfinity” “Infinity Social” “InfinitySocial” “Social Infiniti” “SocialInfiniti” “Social Infinite” . . . . 4. Listen and Respond In the digital age, not listening can reflect badly on your brand. Some businesses are guilty of not responding to customer inquiries. This could lead to frustration and online brand bashing, and if you are unlucky, the angry customer might have a couple of thousand followers and within no time a simple inquiry turns into reputation crisis. Listening and responding are essential components of social media management. It is something you should be prepared to do before coming onboard. Even responding with a simple “We are looking into it” or a link to the website/FAQ page can make a difference and show your customers you take them seriously. 5. Employee Policy Once your business is in the digital space it is the responsibility of all employees to carry themselves as brands ambassadors online. Everyone from the CEO to the interns should be explained the expected behaviour online. This does not mean invasion of employee’s private life, but it is rather explaining them what not to say online. Social media policy for employees should warn employees against: Discussing anything to do with discrimination, hate speech or sexual harassment. Discussing colleagues/office affairs and any other confidential company information. Sharing office pictures or videos that might be inappropriate. Chatting about clients. Posting against competitors. If the above steps are taken and all activities are supervised diligently major social media crisis can be avoided. However, some things are bound to happen. In my next post I will discuss damage control in case of social media crisis. 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