10 tips for handling a social media crisis

10 tips for handling a social media crisis

A social media crisis can rear its ugly head at any moment.  This could be the act of a disgruntled competitor spreading rumors online, a previous employee posting on your business facebook page, an unhappy customer with a big, loud voice on yelp or a neighbor posting a damaging video on you tube.

No matter what the catalyst or degree of damage, you should be prepared to make an informed decision and have an established plan with an outline of how to react.

Most commonly, a social media crisis won’t just go away or resolve itself on its own – it will go on for an uncontrolled period of time potentially damaging your business. Worse, it may continue to grow aggressively spiraling out of control; spreading rumors, speculation and misinformation. All of which result in your business being shown in negative light, mared for an extended period of time, or irreparably damaged.

Hopefully the uncertain what if will never happen to you or your business, and you will never need social media crisis management but it never hurts to be prepared.

Here are 10 tips for handling a social media crisis

  1. Respond within 24 hours only if 1 – 7 can be done, if they can’t — keep quiet and let your influencers do the talking
  2. Don’t act out of anger, take things personally or be emotional
  3. Stay on message, say as much as you need to, and no more
  4. Be humble, gracious, sincere and if it applies — own your mistakes
  5. Do not talk trash, point a finger, place blame or name call
  6. Reply with a message about what you’ve learned from this situation, and how you’re going to prevent another incident from happening in the future
  7. Be honest and thankful that your customers brought the matter to your attention
  8. Do not (in almost ALL circumstances) delete the remarks, remove the offender or block them
  9. If needed, issue a public response in the form of a press release. Declare your statement to news outlets – before they get wind of what’s been written on social networks
  10. And for the love of pie, please be prepared and have a social media crisis plan in place

Think about how you should handle the worst of situations. Take control of the situation ahead of time and be prepared with a social media crisis plan. 

  • Know what to do and who’s in charge before a crisis happens
  • Include your staff, trust them and keep them informed — enlist their help and support
  • Always be listening and monitoring your social networks – not just when a crisis occurs
  • Know who your influencers are; (peers, loyal customers, local papers, surrounding businesses) reach out to them.
  • Measure the situation and see if your community of influencers will step in and correct things without you needing to do anything

Be sure to keep your crisis plan flexible and consider response tactics that can be scaled to fit any situation. No one crisis will be the same as the next, the business who maintains a calm focus will inevitably end up in a good position.

When the social media crisis is over, evaluate the situation. Include your staff in discussion and focus on what exactly happened, how it was handled and if it can happen again. Collectively determine how situations might be handled better in the future. Then update your social media crisis plan again.

In any situation, your best bet is to stay calm, be prepared and don’t let ’em get to you. You’ve worked too darn hard to let some jackoff with an opinion and a keyboard ruin all that you have built.


Have you experienced a social media crisis with your business, let me know in the comments.

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