An end-user posts pictures on Instagram of skin burns she incurred as a result of battery malfunctions in a wearable device.
A recently laid-off software engineer dies by suicide and his family subsequently attacks their son’s former employer on Facebook.
A large customer realizes their SaaS provider has experienced an outage and is the first to expose the downtime on social media.
These are all crisis communication situations that our technology PR firm has helped clients manage. And the one thing they all have in common is that the incidents started on social media.
In the age of consumerism, employees, customers and brands alike are accustomed to expressing negative opinions and asking critical questions on social channels. Yes, even in the B2B world.
How to Prepare for Social Media Crises
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A UK and U.S. survey conducted by Emplifi found that more than half of respondents expect brands to respond to customer service inquiries via digital channels within an hour, with social media being their #1 preferred channel.
Chances are, if your brand doesn’t respond to negative-sentiment social media mentions, the incident will worsen. Therefore, it’s critical to ensure your company’s crisis communications plan includes:
- Protocol for social media listening before, during, and after a crisis.
- Crisis activation workflows, including digital channels.
- Examples and guidelines for drafting/sending social media holding statements. Remember, sometimes social channels are the best place to provide updates on a situation.
- Consideration for when/how executives’ personal social media channels should be monitored and leveraged during crises.
Most issues that originate on social media will be a Level 3 or 4 crisis, however, social channels can rapidly exacerbate a low-tier crisis into a Level 2 or 1. For example, in the event of a data breach, unhappy customers and end-users will often take to social media to raise awareness and displeasure of the breach. This outcry can quickly turn viral, and also attract the attention of other threat actors – at a time when the company is distracted and vulnerable.
This is why proper monitoring, reporting, and activation plans are critical to controlling incidents and preserving corporate reputation.