Don’t Be Scared, Be Prepared – Social Media Crisis Management

This October, we’re tackling scary situations and how best to avoid and/or overcome them. This week’s topic deals with social media crises – how to spot them and how to squash them. I recently came across a great article from one of my favorite digital experts, Jay Baer of Although the article was published two years ago, these best practices still ring true when preparing for or in the midst of a social media crisis.

Jay’s article “Don’t Be Scared, Be Prepared – How to Manage a Social Media Crisis” outlines key steps for creating your brand’s “crisis preparedness kit,” along with 8 steps to manage a social media crisis.

First, brands have to become acute listeners in order to identify a potential crisis before it comes trick or treating at your doorstep. One of the best ways to do this is by setting a listening protocol – a dedicated person or team who frequently and regularly monitors the Internet chatter. It is also worth it to invest in social listening software for a more robust monitoring system, but this obviously depends on the size of your firm and budget. See an updated list of the top 8 social media listening toolsaccording to Social Media Today.

Next, learn how to distinguish an actual social media crisis from a non-crisis.  Negative comments and opposing views come with the territory for most any brand on social media, but these don’t constitute a “crisis.” According to Jay, a social media crisis is when…

  1. There is information asymmetry. When the company does not know any more than the public about what’s going on.
  2. There is a decisive change from the norm. When a markedly different line of criticism occurs, that’s the second sign of a social media crisis.
  3. It has a potentially material impact on the company overall.

The final step in preparation is putting together a crisis response flowchart to determine the appropriate chain of command within the organization corresponding to the severity of the crisis. Keep in mind, “the more acute the issue, the more senior the responder.” Click here to see a sample crisis response flowchart. Note: Depending on the size of your organization, you may or may not need to involve legal.

With the proper plans and preparation in place, your company will be armed with the necessary tools to face any social media crisis head on.

Be sure to read the 8 Steps to Managing a Social Media Crisis.