A social media crisis in today’s day and age could leave a huge dent in a company’s credibility. In today’s digital world, where everyone’s actions are up for scrutiny, businesses bear the brunt of it as they have an image they have to live up to. Sometimes, a bad tweet or an insensitive comment or a complaint by a customer can spiral into something that was completely beyond your imagination. Luckily, there are some ways you can defuse this catastrophe or better still, prevent it from happening in the first place.
Put in place a crisis management team
In other words, this means that you should always have a disaster management team. This should ensure that you have a comprehensive plan in place and it is communicated to all teams in case it needs to be activated. A major part of your plan should be to acknowledge and apologize immediately and not let the situation build up into something you can’t control.
Choose your communication strategy carefully
One of the first few things you should be doing is issuing a statement. This buys time for your investigation into the details of the problem. Your communication should be apologetic, sympathetic and should be reassuring. It is important that you don’t reveal as much information in your initial statement, as it could come across as being presumptuous. Your tone should be apologetic but it should not adopt a defensive tone, as that automatically feeds into the hype. One of the things you must consider mentioning is how this doesn’t reflect your company’s values or beliefs. Your company’s disconnect from the issue should be made clear, in order to keep your image intact.
Spend time investigating
Sometimes, finding yourself in the middle of a crisis can make you jittery and you might find yourself taking a knee-jerk reaction. It is important to keep yourself composed in situations such as these and spend time investigating the issue. When you are doing this, you come across as an unethical company. This is because you ensure that you are not blaming an employee for something that he or she is not responsible for and secondly, you carry out due diligence to ensure that there was actually a violation of policy that took place.
Understand the severity of the situation
It is imperative to be objective in a crisis situation. As a responsible business owner and leader, you must evaluate the severity of the situation. It is easy to get carried away because it happened on social media. You must disconnect yourself from that and actually understand whether it is a violation or not. Sometimes, because of the negative attention small issues can get on social media, you are forced to take certain decisions which might not be completely unethical. An employee committing a genuine mistake must not be misunderstood as a violation. Put yourself in his or her place and take a decision from that standpoint.
Be fair in your judgment
When you are making a decision of taking strict action against an employee, understand what was drastically different from this situation that forced you to take this step. When your action is unprecedented it could raise concerns about the consistency of your decision-making. If the situation is not as dire as social media made it out to be and you still took a drastic step, this could be something that could come back and bite your business. If the action is justified, be sure that you have taken this decision after enough investigation.
Communicate with your employees
When an incident like this has taken place, you must take time to write to your employees and explain the situation to them. Every employee is an equal stakeholder in your organization and you must reassure them of your position and your company’s stance. You must also take time to present alternative responses to situations like these or suitable responses to standard queries, in order to prevent something like this happening in the future. Training is a good option. A trained employee will know how to react and deliver an accepted response.