September 28, 2021

The Dos and Don’ts of Crisis Management on Social Media

Christina Sirabella

The information and tips in this article come from one of Likeable’s Smarter Social™ modules. Learn more about Smarter Social™, our solution for in-house digital teams, here.

In today’s social media climate, crises are inevitable. Just as a TikTok dance can come out of nowhere and go viral, a PR crisis related to your brand can do the same.

As a brand, you won’t be able to prevent these crises—but what you can do is have a plan and a system in place so that you’re prepared for when they do happen. Keep reading to learn some social media crisis management dos and don’ts.

DO: Give clear community guidelines.

It is important to give clear community guidelines on your social pages. These allow you to let users know that your channels are a safe space where they are free to be themselves, ask questions, share concerns, and connect with the brand and with each other. As a public-facing entity, you also want to make sure you do your due diligence to protect your customers from hate, discrimination, illegal activity, etc.

Making these policies public is important so if you need to hide a comment or block someone from your page, there is no guesswork. You acted according to predetermined policies and did not discriminate against any group.

Additionally, you are ensuring that you are following the platform’s policies, as each social platform has written terms of use for users, including those who run brand accounts.

DO: Know what warrants escalation.

All teams should be aware of what would be considered a crisis, or something that needs to be escalated. These situations will vary from brand to brand so it’s important that all teams are aligned.

Setting up a chart, like the one below, will help organize different crisis levels and keep all team members on the same page.

Know what warrants escalation.

DO: Know how to escalate.

Additionally, once it’s established that the crisis is worth escalation, it’s important to know how to do so. The whole community management team should be aware of the go-to crisis contacts—and the contacts should also be aware that they are the first line of communication in a crisis. A document with all crisis contacts and a communication flow chart (example below) should be set up and distributed to team members.

Know how to escalate.

DON’T: Block users (for the most part).

Contrary to what you might think, blocking users on any platform is actually not recommended—you should do this only in extreme cases. What you can (and should!) do instead is use the platforms’ specific features, outlined below, to handle any inappropriate comments or profanity on your posts. It’s important to be proactive and try to catch these comments as soon as possible, as comments left unhidden may hurt a brand’s reputation and can offend your online community.

Block users (for the most part).

DON’T: Let crises or abusive comments get out of your control.

Two ways you can keep all of this under control are tracking and social listening.

  • Tracking: Have a system in order that allows your team to easily keep track of any crisis related items. If a report is needed in the future, this will allow for a quick pull of related items. If your moderation platform allows for labeling, set up a label. If not, set up a running document showing the date posted, media platform, link, and context.
  • Social Listening: Depending on crisis severity, social listening may be required. Not all crises will be posted directly on your social channel, or even have your brand tagged. If your monitoring platform allows for it, set up keywords to be pulled in for monitoring. This will increase your brand’s visibility into the crisis and see what others are talking about online. If not, do periodic searches by your brand name or any relevant phrases across social channels.

DON’T: Think that social media exists in a vacuum.

Nearly 9 in 10 consumers say they will buy products from a brand they follow on social media, so now more than ever, a negative environment on social media can have a real impact on your brand offline. Just as a strong brand presence on social media can drive consumers to purchase and give brands a leg up over their closest competitors, a negative brand presence on social media or an irreparable crisis can do the opposite.

Want to schedule a Smarter Social™ session with our team to learn more? Get in touch.

Tags: Best Practices, Community Management, Facebook, Instagram, Strategy, TikTok, Twitter, YouTube

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