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9 Steps to Integrate SM into Crisis Communication Strategy


As social media continues to play a large role in how organizations engage customers, organizations must be prepared to include social media platforms in its crisis communication response strategy. Responding to a crisis on social media should be a continuation of current crisis communication, however, these nine steps will help you successfully navigate responding to a crisis on rapidly changing social media.

References:

Eriksson, M (2018). Lessons for Crisis Communication on Social Media: A Systematic Review of What Research Tells the Practice. International Journal of Strategic Communication. 12:5, p. 526-551. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/1553118X.2018.1510405

Goldstein, S. (2017, February). A Social Media Checklist for your Crisis Communications Plan. PR News Online. Retrieved from: https://www.prnewsonline.com/water-cooler/how-to-integrate-social-media-into-your-crisis-plan

Baer, J & Teague, L. (2018) Don’t be scared, Be Prepared: How to Manage a Social Media Crisis. Convince & Convert. Retrieved from: https://www.convinceandconvert.com/social-media-strategy/dont-be-scared-be-prepared-how-to-manage-a-social-media-crisis/

#1 Be Active and Engaged

By being active and engaged on social media prior to a crisis event, organizations establish that they aim to disseminate information, communicate and listen to customers. Preparing for social media crisis communication can even increase the chance of becoming the go-to site during a crisis and potentially reduce the spread of information during a crisis.

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#2 Monitor – Be on the Lookout

Organizations should scan social media to monitor their environments for emerging issues and also be proactive and early in tracking online hot-issues among publics. Monitoring also helps evaluate the emotional character of a crisis and enables organizations to respond appropriately.

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#3 Acknowledge Quickly

Organizations must respond quickly to rapidly emerging crises to be perceived as a credible source. The longer an organization waits to respond the more likely rumors are to spread. "Up-to-date information is important to perceived credibility, because slow updates decrease credibility; nevertheless, posting social media messages too quickly may instead decrease the level of perceived competence of the organization: both too fast and too few slow updates may impact specific credibility perceptions" (Eriksson, 2018, p. 533).

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#4 Tone of Voice

Organizations should be personal, polite and professional when they post and respond. They should never be dismissive. "Having a human face as a source will have a greater effect on the effectiveness of social media crisis communication than using an anonymous organizational social media account" (Eriksson, 2018, p. 532).

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#5 Listen to Customers

Organizations must seek to listen to and try to understand customers. They should listen to understand, not just listen to respond. "“Effective dialogue seems mainly to be about taking actions in social media that demonstrate that the organization is listening to the affected or critical citizens and consumers during crisis situations even if ‘genuine dialogue' is not easily achieved during a social media crisis” (Eriksson, 2018, p. 531).

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#6 Embrace Criticism

While it may be difficult, organizations must learn to embrace criticism and negative comments. Negative comments should never be deleted unless they violate the organization's stated page guidelines (using profanity, etc.) Organizations should also strive to create a safe place for people to express their feelings. This also allows you to monitor negative comments and have a voice in responding.

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#7 Respond to Customers

No response is still a response. Organizations should always respond promptly and directly to the person. Also, respond publicly and have an open conversation or acknowledge the concern. If personal privacy is an issue, ask to move the conversation offline or through direct message. If you are concerned about having the correct response at the ready – have a plan in place and official statements drafted.

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#8 Create a Landing Page

When dealing with a major crisis, organizations should create a digital space where to point people to find official responses and information. This landing page or "hub" enables consumers to find all of your official communication and updates. Without this hub, consumers may turn to other sources (which may be inaccurate) for information.

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#9 Train Your Employees

Nothing can derail your crisis communication strategy than inconsistent and confusing messaging. Customers will reach out to employees and others outside of social media. It is imperative to prepare employees ahead of time in order to share consistent information and avoid rogue responses during a crisis.

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