Social Media Crisis Management

Taylor Wilson - March 30, 2010

Social media has become the new 800 lb gorilla, replacing Google as the most visited web site in the United States. Social Media platforms have become a driving force in how customers view brands and businesses, which can be both beneficial and detrimental depending on how you approach social media.

All businesses must enter the social media realm with a plan to manage the possible associated risks and repercussions that may occur. As we have seen over the past few weeks with Nestle and Toyota, social media can be the gasoline added to a fire. Preparing for these types of situations should be of utmost importance to all businesses before they delve into social media.

Nestlé’s lack of preparation and immediate response to their social media backlash has resulted in severe ramifications.  According to Viral Agency, Nestlé’s online brand attitude shifted from 43% positive attitude on March 15, to negative 35% on March 17. Just two days following the launch of the Kit Kat Palm oil viral video campaign, Nestlé’s had a huge 78% negative shift of favorability.

The exchange of information and news is accessible to users within seconds. A clear plan is the best method for preventing a social media fire and dealing with those fires after igniting. If dealt with properly, social media can be of great valuable and very beneficial to businesses during a crisis.  

How to successfully prepare for social media issues:

  1. Establish a Crisis Management Team– Create a dedicated team of people who are educated in social media and crisis management
  2. Set up response channels – i.e. Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, Blog. Know how to quickly respond and interact in each channel
  3. Listen, interact and stay engaged – Set up alerts, stay engaged, always know what is going on and keep up with the latest buzz.
  4. Prepare–  Be fully prepared for a crisis and establish your plan of attack
  5. Business Plan – Develop a business model and etiquette for employees to follow when engaging in each channel. Always be prepared and plan for the worst.

Burying your head in the sand won’t cut it. The fire won’t put itself out. You need to prepare a strategic plan of attack and turn a crisis into a benefit.

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