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How to Deal with & Prevent a Social Media Crisis

Barbara Harris
August 20, 2020

If you own a business, you’ve undoubtedly heard about the necessity of being well-versed in social media.

After all, according to Katie Gutwein on kbkcommunications.com, marketers who spent at least six hours or more using social media saw 52% more leads than those who didn’t.

How to Deal with & Prevent a Social Media Crisis


Gutwein also notes that companies that use Twitter have, on average, double the amount of leads per month compared to companies that don’t use Twitter. But what happens when your company’s foray into social media goes horribly wrong? Here are some tips to help deal with, and possibly even prevent, a social media crisis.

1. Have a plan ready. Don’t wait until you find out that a social media crisis is underway at your business to try and figure out how to fix it. According to Katie Moffat on thenextweb.com, it’s important to, first, do a little brainstorming: ask yourself what problems customers would have to deal with if your service went wrong or malfunctioned. After assessing possible problem areas, figure out which of your staff members would need to be contacted in the event of a social media emergency.

Make sure everyone in your company has the relevant contact information. Moffat advises that you take the time to write down the emergency plan and distribute it to your staff. Another preventative measure Moffat says can help protect your brand-register your company or brand name on as many social media platforms as possible, even if you do not currently use them.

This will hopefully help prevent someone from setting up a spoof account of your company.

2. Don’t argue with angry commenters. Remember the Amy’s Baking Company fiasco? The owners of the troubled restaurant in Scottsdale, Arizona have repeatedly engaged with their “haters” on Facebook, sending off all caps and profanity filled rants at anyone who dares to challenge them. While this is an extreme example, the lesson remains: in the event of a social media attack on your business, stay calm and deal with negative comments appropriately. Remember, while a crisis will eventually subside, people will judge how your company dealt with its reaction to the situation.

3. Be real with the public. As Katie Moffat on thenextweb.com notes, being honest about your failings in “plain English,” not corporate speak, really helps to tone down the situation. After Kickstarter came under fire for a “seduction guide” that seemed to encourage sexual harassment, they wrote a blog post called “We were wrong” explaining what had happened and what actions they planned to take to fix the problem. Not only did Kickstarter apologize, they banned that sort of publication from appearing on their website again. They also donated $25,000 to an anti-sexual violence organization.

4. Act quickly. Time is of the essence during a social media meltdown. A couple of years ago, a video called “Dirty Domino’s,” which showed a Domino’s Pizza employee breaking all kinds of health codes while making pizza, went viral. While the CEO did appear in a video to apologize to customers, but not until 48 hours later. According to Lisa Furgison on verticalresponse.com, some analysts say that this apology came too late. As Barry Welford on socialmediaexaminer.com says, while your company might be tempted to hold back until you’re exactly sure about what has happened, the people affected by the crisis want answers right away. It is better for your company to give customers answers before anyone else does.

5. Be vigilant. While it might be tempting to relax your efforts in the aftermath of a successfully handled social media crisis, don’t. According to Ini Augustine on linkedin.com, it is crucial to assign responsibility for all of your social media pages and accounts. Having everyone at the office post is like playing Russian roulette with your company’s reputation- as Augustine points out, once something is online, it’s online forever. For maximum control, you should train an employee to manage your social media accounts or hire an outside agency.

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