More often than not, companies are faced with unexpected events that cause frustration and dissatisfaction among clients. Knowing how to manage this kind of social media crisis can help prevent escalation and, in many cases, save the reputation and brand of a company.
Daniel Forman, founder and president of the Montreal-based social media agency Ensuite Media, explains that having a contingency plan prepared by those responsible can make all the difference when faced with a social media crisis.
“When a crisis explodes on social media, there is no time to figure out a plan of action nor to question company policies, as the situation needs to be responded to quickly. That’s why we recommend establishing a plan that defines a role for all parties involved in order to avoid confusion and to have the best possible answers prepared for the public in an appropriate time.”
A storm of negative Facebook comments
The winter storm that swept through Quebec last week did not only take authorities by surprise, but many snow removal companies found themselves short-staffed, undoubtedly causing frustration for clients across the province.
William Lemire, social media account manager for a Greater-Montreal snow removal company, was forced to manage this crisis when dissatisfied clients turned to Facebook to express their grievances.
“People were furious and rapidly took to their computers to respond. I had to work hard to keep control of the page, which was overflowing with negative comments, explains Mr. Lemire. Clients often use social media to attack companies and it’s during those times that we need to pay close attention to passing on the right message at the right time.”
According to Daniel Forman, company managers need to be conscious of the fact that crisis’ can happen at any moment on social media and they must “take measures quickly to ensure they keep the situation under control.”
5 actions to take when faced with a social media crisis
1. Have a crisis-management plan: understand the company policies and identify those responsible for taking charge of the page
2. If there is no crisis-management plan, temporarily close the page while working to understand the situation and finding answers for clients
3. Prepare answers or instructions to give people, and make sure they’re seen by all followers of the page (upload as a cover picture, pin to the top of the page, etc.)
4. Try to respond to each concern individually, even if it’s a general response
5. Hide negative comments in order to avoid a domino-effect and to keep control of the page.