When thinking of a crisis we often think panic and chaos. It’s true that these things happen and that will never change. It’s part of our landscape. We live in an ever-changing world with a non-stop news cycle and social media that doesn’t take a break. When a crisis happens we, all know in real time what is happening and how others are responding. Think about your organization and how they would respond to a crisis. Would they know how to respond? How would they decide who was going to respond? Could they do it fast enough? All valid questions and certainly very relevant to today’s 24/7 world.
Crisis management is important to any organization and in the realm of social media it is even more so. The crisis can happen in an instant and the response needs to be just as quick. Think about how fast your Twitter or Facebook news feed moves. Can you even keep up? How and when you respond is crucial to the overall outcome of the event. This is where having a plan in place before an event happens is so important.
Let’s talk about how to put a plan together. I believe that a crisis management plan is an integral part of all organizations, big or small. If your organization uses social media at all you need to have one in place.
Before a crisis strikes:
• Start by building a team of individuals from different areas within the organization. This gives you a mix of different perspectives and will help to spread out responsibilities. A good start will be with your Public Relations department. There should be a team leader that will correspond with all parties involved with the crisis and who will also be the liaison for the rest of the organization.
• It’s important to remember that not every event is a crisis. You and your newly assembled team need to look at what constitutes a crisis for your organization.
• Before you decide what different responsibilities to include as part of your plan, look at your organization’s mission and goals. This will be a guide for the remainder of the plan.
• Determine which responsibilities will be part of the plan and who will do what. Asking team members about their strengths and interests is a great way to divide up responsibilities. Knowing your team is important.
• Once you have determined what the responsibilities are and who is doing what, make a checklist. This can be given to each team member and it makes what everyone is doing transparent. Everyone knows their role and what the expectation is.
• Invest in a monitoring tool that can be used during a crisis to see what is happening on all the social media channels your organization uses.
• Create a document that can be used after the crisis to determine how it was handled. Have a questionnaire to give each team member.
Once the crisis happens:
• Notify your crisis management team of the situation. Grab that checklist you made while putting this plan together.
• Take control of the situation. Stop all posts scheduled or none other than what you need for the current situation.
• Keep your eyes on the pulse. Monitoring all channels will be important to the final outcome of the event. Now is the time to fire up your monitoring tool.
• Acknowledgement is key. Getting a longer response out on your organization’s website will help to address the issue in a timely manner.
• Addressing the situation on social media channels can be done according to your response plan. It should be done soon after the crisis begins and should continue until the crisis has subsided.
After the dust settles:
• Gather your crisis management team and figure out what the impact to your organization will be.
• Assess your team’s ability to respond to a crisis. Have each team member fill out the after-crisis questionnaire. It will give you and your team insight on how you responded and how to handle any future crisis’s.
• Now is the time to reassess and make changes to your crisis management plan if needed.
Do you think that you and your organization are prepared to handle a social media crisis? It’s important to have a plan in place before the chaos begins. Don’t get caught off guard and let one crisis define your organization.
Mandee’s love for creating things has led her to a passion for writing, social media, public relations and design. As a consultant with Socially Inspired, Mandee focuses on helping businesses succeed through written and verbal communication. Currently, she is adding to her professional skill set by studying for the NISM Social Media Strategist (SMS) certification.
You can learn more about Mandee by connecting on LinkedIn.