How to Create a Social Media Disaster Plan

On social media, customer satisfaction is key: the Retail Consumer Report conducted by Harris Interactive in in 2011 found that after a seller contacted consumers who left negative reviews, 34% of consumers deleted their reviews, 33% replaced their negative review for a positive one, and 18% became loyal customers. Happy customers can advocate your brand, with the same report noting that 21% of a retailer’s customers recommended that business to a friend.

Meanwhile, unhappy customers can be your business’s greatest enemies—which means you need to have an action plan in place to deal with their concerns before things spiral out of control.

Preparing a Social Media Team

First, gather together your personnel into a crisis team. Recommended personnel include your social media manager, various department managers, corporate communications representatives and someone from your legal counsel. Because different departments may have to respond to different crises, create a flowchart of various levels of controversy or scenarios that specify who will be contacted. For example, some cases might require a legal expert to weigh in before reacting, while others won’t.

Communication between everyone involved is key when navigating a social media crisis. Have a means of liaison between your social media team and corporate’s PR personnel. An important thing to consider is how these teams will communicate if a crisis is caught after business hours: who will handle a situation like this, and how will they be notified and act swiftly?

Make sure roles are clearly defined. When the appointed person has drafted a response to a crisis, who will look it over for final approval? Who will deliver it—and where? A good rule is to respond on whatever channel your crisis sprung up on first, and then respond on other networks. So if your Facebook page is being met with lots of blowback around a given situation, respond there with a statement before extending to, say, YouTube or Instagram with a statement.

Anticipate Common Feedback

Once your team is ready, identify what constitutes as a disaster or not. Every large company faces a constant stream of typical negative feedback, such as general criticism against Apple’s labor practices. These “evergreen” comments are easily anticipated and can be dealt with using a canned response. Brainstorm with your team what typical negative feedback you expect with your brand, and have a series of responses lined up—but always deliver these responses in a personalized fashion rather than a simple copy-and-paste job. Being ready ahead of times means you can respond to common concerns immediately rather than cultivate distrust in your brand.

Monitor Feedback (and Respond!)

You want to catch dissatisfaction early and deal with it quickly, before a small issue becomes a full-blown social media crisis damaging to your reputation. It may seem counter-intuitive, but allow customers to voice their complaints on your profiles; it’s better to have them do so in a forum that you control and can easily track rather than have complaints be spread all over the internet. With most of the criticism against your brand mostly organized in one place, you’re able to more easily respond to everyone. So if you couldn’t avoid a controversy, invite your customers to speak their mind all in one place—show them you’re listening, and keep the conversation contained.

You also want to respond to dissatisfied customers as humanely as possible. It may be tempting to delete or hide negative engagement, but don’t do this—it’s an admission of guilt that will only give more power to your critics. In the middle of a crisis, Applebee’s made the fatal mistake of responding in robotic corporate-speak and deleting comments left from irate customers and fans. By only further offending its customers this way, the business encouraged more and more criticism as the situation spiraled further out of their control.

Catch a Crisis Early

If a crisis is gaining traction, refer to the flowchart we mentioned above to decide how to coordinate the crisis with your team. Remember: be swift! It’s best to issue a general statement in addition to responding directly to users identifying an issue in its early stages. When necessary, apologize and validate users’ claims—they’ll be glad you did. Always remain honest and transparent, as it shows your customers that you take their concerns seriously.

When Trolls Attack

Often, a crisis emerges when a social media team hasn’t dealt with a complaint correctly—perhaps they insulted their critics, deleted comments or committed some other foible. But sometimes trolls will come out of the woodwork to attack your brand, in which case you need to be prepared to take further action.

While you typically should not censor comments, it’s very much in your interest to delete comments that include profanity or hate speech—that sort of content is not okay, and getting rid of such comments promotes a safe space for your customers. Comment moderation can use up essential time and resources during a controversy, though, so you may want to consider a tool like Smart Moderation.

Smart Moderation detects abusive comments and deletes them within the minute that they’re posted, and thanks to its sophisticated artificial intelligence, it can tell the difference between “f—ing awesome” (a comment of praise that you might want to keep) versus profanity that you’ll want to erase. With Smart Moderation, you can focus on real concerns instead of waste time with trolls who just want to incite chaos. As you can guess, this helps your human moderators and social media team navigate a disaster and respond to real people with real concerns.

Learning from a Crisis

You should research high-profile crises and determine how they may be avoided by your business. For each one, ask your team: how did this situation begin? How did the brand respond to initial customer concerns, and what was the response? What was handled well, and what was handled poorly? How long did it take for the dust to settle?

Any time your brand has suffered—or narrowly missed—a crisis of your own, consider these same questions and amend your action plan as needed. Be sure to brief everyone in your crisis management team with any new insights you gain.

127 comments

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  6. Comentaros que no existen si necesitas reclamar. Son prepotentes y chulos, te desprecian aún teniendo razón.Todo el gitaneo que tienen bajando los precios antes de contratar lo tienen cuando tienes un problema. Son unos estafadores, en el sentido de que no cumplen contratos y cómo están en Irlanda, pues pasan completamente de ti. Incluso llegan a amenazarte por correo.Mi problema está en el Departamento de Consumo en España. Espero no llegar a los tribunales.

  7. 21/03/2011 Р1:25amIncreible Iker es el salvavidad de ese equipo que a veces no se a lo que juegan y la portada se la lleva uno que no ha hecho ni los 2 goles para llamarle letal.El Bar̤a termina pidiendo la hora y el Madrid cumple en el derby. Nadie pensaria que han ganado con el mismo resultado 2-1

  8. I feel so honoured! I am elated and I would have danced out of joy if i weren’t at work right now! thanks so much Joanna and team for choosing my card…Theresa’s creation is so adorable and beautiful…gorgeous detailing… Congrats Theresa and also to all honourable mentions! Hugs..

  9. Adorei!!!!estou no 2 semestre de fisioterapia e tenho direto dores na coluna causada pala má postura na sala de aula e enfrente ao computador tento ficar ereta mas o cansaço vence ,gostaria de ver mais sobre massagens especificas no corpo todo(fotos de como se faz),Obrigada!!!

  10. To a devout Muslim, where ever he puts his foot on it needs to be made subject to Islam. Time is of no significance, just the fact that they put their foot on a particular piece of real estate, i.e. country. Just watching Pamela Geller and the guy who supports a mosque to be build on Sean Hanity is very telling if any who object this to happen is considered equating Islam with terrorism. Even so they are not totaly wrong with it but don't want to admit that Islam is a threat to all that America values (minus the demoralization of this nation).

  11. While I have no involvement with either game, I feel it’s only fair to point out that there are two entirely different games in the IGF this year made by unrelated people which BOTH use the orange-and-black Greek vase art style. But one gets article coverage ALL over the place and the other (‘Hellas’) doesn’t.To the best of my knowledge it’s a complete coincidence, no one copied the other. It’s just worth noting and thinking about how easily the whims of fate and reporting can affect your prospects.

  12. im with you man…sangat setuju…kite ada “peredaran zaman” dari tahun nenek moyang kita sampai skrg…cara pemakaian tudung sudah berubah…kenapa nak pertikaikan die pakai tudung begitu…sekurang kurangnye die tutup jugak…proud of her…at least die buat sumthing yg other malay celebs tak dpt buat sampai skrg…we should support her…Well-loved.

  13. Indeed, that is one of the biggest dieefrfnces between investing in gold and silver ETFs/futures or in bullion itself.My strategy:Invest in in unallocated storage (no delivery, no storage costs) and if things get frantic then get my holding fabricated and sent to me (or trusted storage)

  14. Hola Elda que bueno que nos escribes quiero decirte que efectivamente yo creo que no hay casualidades sino causalidades. Espero que te incorpores al Diplomado que empieza ya en el mes de Enero y con mucho gusto te envío a tu correo la información de nuestros talleres. Te esperamos pronto por el Centro Ser Mejor Ser.

  15. right on! i believe it’s the beginning of the end for soulless corporations. yeah they have their place but as more women {and all categories of consumers} become more privy to the power of their dollars, and how who they support effects their world at large, the soulless corporation will become a minority. i’m looking forward to that day!thanks for sharing your Blogher 11 experience with us!

  16. that attacks on hospitals were a casus belli against Tripoli is standing by his allies in Riyadh and Manama, who spent many days… attacking hospitals under the noses of the US Fifth Fleet. The same Treasury revenue going up in smoke as missiles explode in Libya is subsidising Israel’s missiles blowing up people in Gaza – not two years ago, but today, now, with the threat of much more imminently. The same Qatar that is belatedly providing air support for the attacks in Libya is simultaneously sending troops to attack democrats in the Persian Gulf.

  17. That looks utterly fantastic. The cats would certainly have appreciated it… after sniffing it of course. Then they'd have fallen asleep on it and thoughtfully left bits of fluff to add to the innate quiltiness. Hope the auction goes well and you get lots for Chile. What with them suffering all kinds of horrors over the last 30 to 40 years.

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  19. For casual users, sure go ahead and use your Iphone or Android gps applications. For hikers, deep woods cover, don’t even think about it. Buy a dedicated gps unit. The reception, let alone battery life and useability (planning routes, export/import data), of a handheld gps unit exceeds that of our lovely little toy phones.

  20. that their policy in the event of fire in a wind turbine (and presumably all kinds of catastrophic failure) is to secure a perimeter of 500 metres.So much for the rest of us “sleeping” only 400 metres away. Nobody ever bothered to get our phone number or even a record of who may be in the home to prepare for such a catastrophic event. Would anyone even bother to tell us if the wind turbine 400 metres away was spinning out of control?Or would we have been left to burn, as this is generally how the MOE “regulates” wind turbines?

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  22. Vassili disse:Vader,aposentadoria do caça acrobático?????????? qual…… o Su-35S????????engraçado, pois a mesma Russia ja encomendou 48 unidades dele ano passado. Num vai se aposentar assim tão cedo não…….rsrsrsrsrss…..Abraços.

  23. Read my previous post on bicycles. It specifically addresses bike lanes and safety. You’re right, our communities need to invest in making themselves more bicycle friendly. If we learn from the successes of others, that investment doesn’t have to be expensive.It may be another couple of decades, though, before we ever get bike lanes out to where you live!

  24. I hadn’t heard that introduced flytraps were growing in Florida. Kinda cool. I’ll have to hunt them down next time I’m in north Florida. Still, it makes sense. If you like swamps, you should love Florida, and the little flytraps do love them some swamps.

  25. Essa foi bem parecida com um fato que aconteceu em uma Festa do Peão na cidade onde eu morava e trabalhava. O jornalista do jornal concorrente entrevistou a dupla sertaneja e foi embora para a redação. Só que o show não aconteceu. Rolou uma pancadaria no recinto, e tudo foi cancelado. No jornal, dia seguinte, o abre: "Fulano & Beltrano animam 30 mil com sucessos", bla bla bla… BARRIGADA!

  26. Nana…For a stock, which is different from a broth or a clarified consume, roasted bones are what imparts the flavor profile and using beef or veal bones, clevered to allow the marrow seep into the roasting pan, is a classic method in creating a base for a demi glace or a great Fren onion soup. The fat you encountered is not a bad thing. It has many good uses. To “confit” means to simmer a protien in it’s own fat…commonlt done with duck, “schmultz” is a Yiddish twist on this with chicken.

  27. The political sponsors of BH are feeling safe now because the majority of their people perceive it as a resistance to the rule of GEJ, but when political competition will be a matter of choosing leaders from the north, the finger pointing will start from within and no where will be safe for these bloody hands….mark my words

  28. 現在、次男さんも落ち着いているとの事。良かったですね。積極的な意見は、皆さんからたくさん寄せられているので、別目線で。「遊び」が少ないかなぁ。と感じました。きりんさん自身にです。息子さん達に対する姿勢、コメント一件一件に対する返信、ご主人の体罰に対する対処。一つ一つ、どれも母親として人として模範的。だからこそ、ちょっと息苦しいなと思いました。思春期、反抗期。いろんな呼び方が有りますが、要はエネルギーがいっぱい!!若い力は、親が、社会が気に入らないからそのエネルギーを頑張って自立に向けられる側面も有るものだと思います。その親が完璧(に見える)だったら…。その親が強すぎたら…。自立(自分で良し悪しを考え、選択する。やりたい事を見つけ打ち込む。自由に伴う責任について考える)に向けるエネルギーが自分の中でとぐろを巻いて、自分の人生を踏みにじるような事をする場合もある。幸い次男さんも落ち着かれたようですし、もう少しぐらい力を抜いていい加減な親でもいいんじゃないでしょうか?「あんたがしたことなんだから、あんたが自分で考えて責任とりなさーい。お母さん知らなーい」でも、しっかり見とく。そして、どうしようもないぐらい困ってるのがわかったときに黙って力を貸す。寄り添う。みてて欲しいけど、口は出されたくない。そろそろそんな、親がちょっぴり寂しいお年頃かもしれません。ただご主人の体罰についてだけは、ご夫婦でしっかり話し合われた方がいいと思います。おびえて言う事を聞くと言う事は、理解とは正反対に有ると思いますので。私自身は、母親としてまだその時期を味わっていませんが私の両親が、10を過ぎた頃に一段階、15を過ぎた事に一段階、18で更に一段階と親としての介入を減らしてくれた事が、当時から今に至るまで何よりも感謝している自立補助でした(考えてしたわけでは無さそうですが…笑)。10の頃万引きした時は「ひとりで謝りに行け」と言われ、店の人に「親は出てこんのか」と言われましたが、お尻を掻きながら「お前がしたことで、私たちの信用が落ちたのだから、おまえの行いでそれも含め取り戻せ」と、最後まで私の前では謝罪しませんでした。裏で謝罪し、引き続き厳しく見守ってくれるようお店の人にお願いしていた事は成人してお店の人から聞き知りました。最終的に、自分で自分の人生を責任もって自由に謳歌できればいいんです。完璧なんてないし。失敗はおとなになってもいっぱいします(笑)しっかりしているお子様たちのようですから、きっと大丈夫。子供たちは、親の教育の鏡とも言いますが、それが全ての面ではありません。子供一人ひとりが考え、自分で自分を育ててもいきます。甘えと自立の中で揺れ動く時期なんて誰にでもあります。きりんさんの文面からですと道を踏み外すようなお子さんたちのようには見えませんよ(^-^)そのなかで頑張って成長しようとしてますよ。これからも、子ども自身の成長にしっかりと目を向けて、適度に力を抜いて頑張ってください。

  29. Frankly, while I completely understand the need for clear, understandable rules and policies, this specific rule is neither clear nor understandable. What message do children get after seeing kids featured on the front page? Maybe the people who featured Youngtubers knew it was an account run by parents, and those who recently suspended some popular accounts are merely ignorant. Regardless, I think youtube has betrayed some of it's biggest fans and best-loved users. This is an inadequate explanation for their suspensions.

  30. I think Allan was there to tell them about the Mayor too. I think it's more clear in the scene the way it was written in the draft of the script that I own, but yeah. I think he was going to rat the Mayor out. Maybe he was getting a bit freaked out when the Mayor made plans to become invincible?

  31. / Good post. I learn something totally new and challenging on websites I stumbleupon everyday. It will always be helpful to read through content from other authors and practice something from other websites.

  32. piille:Ei lentäminen ole mikään kaikille kuuluva ihmisoikeus! Kun ilmasto ei kestä kaikkien lentämistä, sitä pitää jotenkin rajoittaa ja hinnan nostaminen korkeammaksi on oikeudenmukaisin keino. Ne, jotka todella tarvitsevat lentomatkailua myös maksavat sen korkeamman hinnan.Henkilökohtaiset päästökiintiöt tietysti voisivat ratkaista tämänkin helposti. Jos haluaa ehdottomasti lentää, vähentää vastaavasti muita hiilidioksidipäästöjä.

  33. There are actually lots of details like that to take into consideration. That could be a nice point to carry up. I supply the ideas above as general inspiration however clearly there are questions just like the one you bring up the place an important thing can be working in honest good faith. I don?t know if best practices have emerged round issues like that, but I’m sure that your job is clearly identified as a good game. Each girls and boys really feel the affect of just a second’s pleasure, for the remainder of their lives.

  34. Good cause. I won't be able to come down but would definatley be interested in getting some of the art work! Do you have to be there to get them or will they just go on ebay afterwards?

  35. This is a great study on social interest of a person. A person who has large lateral nucleus will definitely have high social interest which means they are more optimistic, altruistic and sociable in nature.

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