The major benefits of social media are certainly timeliness, immediacy, and relevance. You can disseminate valuable information about any pressing mater and urgent situation, providing live updates to everyone about what is going on easily and fast. Online channels are widely used and available anytime and anywhere, making it the best tool for any organization to employ in times of crisis.
How can you use social media during a crisis? Social media channels are inexpensive, quick, efficient, and readily accessible platforms for an incredibly diverse and large audience. You can share continues information about any current event, keeping clients up-to-date with the latest happenings as they occur. You can prevent blind panic by providing readers with relevant news so that they can create a clear plan of action and make decisive responsibility regarding the matter at hand.
If utilized properly, you can use social media not just provide your clients with relevant information about your company, products available, services provided, benefits, as well as valuable updates about external crisis or threats, like storms, hurricanes, and floods. You can also improve the bottom line of your business if you have a wide number of audiences by being easily reachable by everyone who is using the internet. Moreover, you can mitigate any potential damage to your reputation and profit if you know how to properly handle and manage an internal crisis using various online platforms.
How prepared is your agency to provide your audiences and readers with live updates during times of crisis? Do you have a handy communication management plant, or, ideally, a strategy to address problems and difficulties before they can turn into crises? Do you know what to do in order to be relevant in a society where every person wants to be involved and included in the matter at hand? Do you know how to handle what the public is already saying about an external or internal crisis?
Having an effective management plan during times of external and internal crisis can make your company and the lack of one can break your organization. Knowing how to build your social media platforms, increase the number of your audiences, readers, followers, and subscribers can substantially impact your reputation and status. Learning how to choose the proper stance based on what the public opinion about an issue will help you provide an immediate and proper response to their feedback.
So what social media strategies and approaches should you implement to be ready during a crisis?
Build Your Audience
A good communication strategy during a crisis is not relevant unless your organization already has solid, large, and diverse followers of your social media channels. You must build a presence online, grow it, nurture it, and become an expert on a subject matter. If you do not have a well-established audience base, any effort that you put into crisis management will be time-wasting.
If you want to provide guidance and information to your readers during disasters and threats, then you must have their attention engaged not just during the event, but also before and after the crisis to make your channel effective. Think of it as building a community. When you have excellent dynamics with your audience, you build your authority and influence over your group of followers. You will become an advisor or the trusted voice when it comes to providing valuable information and life-saving updates during urgent situation since you already have solid viewers and you hold a strong position in the group.
Keep Your Audience Engaged
Do not focus on the “speaking” aspect, looking for, creating, or posting new content, on your social media management. Instead, pay close attention to listening and moderating on your accounts, analyzing the feedback of the audience that you reach. Not all publicity is good publicity. Monitoring the response of your followers during bad and good times, understanding how they feel allows you to concentrate on what your clients have to say about your agency and lets you provide an appropriate response to what they are saying. Create campaigns that will catch not just catch their attention, but keep them engaged, listening, and viewing your social media channels.
Deliver Your Message Appropriately
Having a large and diverse audience means that your agency caters to various groups of people and you should create different messages for each – the audience who are affected by the crisis and the followers who are responding to it. You must provide two different communications at the same time, making sure that both of the statements are clear and work together to clarify any confusion and resolve the issue.
For example, if a customer is upset about an unsatisfying service or an employee, you can apologize to the victim privately while assuring the public that you are aware of the issue and proper actions are being made regarding the incident. You need to display compassion by changing how the audience experiences and views what happened, not by defending the brand.
Further, you no longer have to run a focus group to know what your clients are saying; all you need to do is visit your site to see how they feel. You can respond accordingly almost immediately. If the feedback is particularly enraged, you can calm the situation by being understanding, compassionate, and sending a message in a caring tone.
Immediately Address Concerns
You do not have to check your social media channels too often. All you have to do is monitor the comments and feedback of unsatisfied costumers, respond to the matter at hand quickly and you can resolve it before it escalates to a worldwide trending topic. You can prevent problems from spiraling out of control and turning into a full-blown crisis before it actually happens by resolving the issue before the disgruntled client posts about their dissatisfaction online to a wider audience and go viral for bad or for good.
Although you cannot reverse anger quickly, you can turn an angry customer to a loyal client if you quickly provide solutions and resolve it, effectively and compassionately. You can even turn your critics into brand champions if you use your social media tools wisely.
Provide Relevant Information
When it comes to an external crisis, such as threats, storms, hurricanes, and disasters, always know which information is vital for your audiences during a real-time emergency. Acknowledge and respect the seriousness of the matter by providing details with the right content and proper tone in your posts. To be responsive and facilitate conversations, once you have a good crisis management plan and guideline, here are a few tips on how to properly deliver your messages on your social media platforms.
- Consider all your audiences, competitors, media, community, clients, stakeholders, and employees. Create your messages wisely, keeping in mind how different audiences see your response or post differently.
- Discuss with reliable authorities, share resources, and tools. You can increase the number of your audience by providing easily sharable post and information on your site to their own account.
- Watch what you retweet or repost from other sources, especially minute-by-minute updates and live developments. If you share the wrong information, it can go viral and damage your credibility. Always use news from reliable sources.
- Hashtag your posts so that anyone searching the crisis or your agency can easily sort and find available information online.
- Do not post unreliable information and if you are sharing time-sensitive news, then timestamp and date them so the content stays accurate and current.
- Answer question, read feedback and responses and identify the public view and opinions. Respond publicly since the information could be valuable to the larger audience.
- Avoid responses with general information since every disaster is different and local. Take time to find out more about the situation to provide relevant update and news.
- Avoid giving promises you cannot deliver, misinformation, assumptions, and rumors. Always set proper expectations to your followers regarding when you will be able to provide updates and information in your social media channels, even when nothing has changed, will give your audience a sense of security.
- Always post updates using this formula – update or description PLUS actions being done regarding the matter at hand PLUS call to action or what followers can do at the moment or about it.
How often should I give an update about the crisis? Silence is not an option during a crisis. The sooner you can provide useful and relevant information, the better. Updating your accounts frequently is vital. Make posts before, during and after every situation. Send new updates every 10 minutes during and after, even if there is nothing new to report, adding new material days and weeks later.
How can I prevent an internal crisis from escalating? Take control of the public feedback and opinion by immediately posting an appropriate response regarding the issue and use the right hashtags. Providing information regarding the matter from the very beginning will stop people from formulating false, damaging opinion and illegitimate hashtags, preventing bad media to go viral.
How can I minimize the impact during an emergency? Always provide explicit details and instruction on what people can do after giving an update about upcoming or ongoing urgent situations and disasters so that they can make the appropriate decision and action. You can simply direct them to practical tips or external sources of advice using the formula mentioned above.