Why every business needs a social media crisis management plan

Just like your workplace fire drills, you plan and rehearse. Rinse and repeat. The goal is to save lives, but you hope to never have to use it. But if it does come to it, you’ve got the right procedures in place to ensure everyone gets out safely. Well, the same needs to be said about crisis management in social media for all brands, big or small. You invest time and effort to build, rehearse and modify. You create one so that in case the situation occurs, you’ve prepared as much as you can to handle anything that comes at you.


What happens when a brand falls silent during a crisis issue?

Recently a tragic workplace accident occurred on a building site in Melbourne, Australia in which a load of wet concrete fell from a crane into a pit where labours were working. The accident caused the death of one worker whilst two others were injured.

This incident was reported across the nation that day, and whilst the media was debating and reporting on the event, the company in question, Clark Cranes, remained silent. Only after 24 hours, a statement was released by Clark Cranes CEO, Michael Clark, which he extended his sympathy and condolences to the families affected by this tragedy.

Read Mumbrella’s take on it here.

When it comes to these types of issues, especially when it gathers national attention, speed and transparency is paramount in managing the conversations that are true and factual.

Telecommunication and Banks are pretty good industry examples where crisis management procedures are mostly on point, but even then, they aren’t perfect.


So I how to create a crisis management document if I don’t have one?

There’s no real easy way to do this, it requires you to collaborate with key stakeholders in your business from:

  • Corporate affairs / PR
  • Social Media
  • Marketing
  • Customer Care
  • Product

What are you are trying to identify are the:

  • Potential issues that can arise
  • Map out your social channels where you directly have a presence (Facebook/Twitter/YouTube) and indirect presence (Forums/media blogs/Activism based sites)
  • Grading those issues in terms of severity or damage to the business
  • Mapping out the internal journey from the point of which the issue was raised, the individuals that are alerted to come together, to the response phases and community management.
  • Identifying who are your key subject matter experts

Here’s what the US Air Force created with regards to handling responses via social media way back in 2009. Granted it’s almost 10 years old, but, it is a really good basis to develop your crisis response framework, especially if you don’t have one to begin with.


Another thing to do is create scenario response drills

I did this specifically with one organisation in the finance space and it proved to be very beneficial to the organisation. The reason why including:

  • Highlights any communication gaps between different business units
  • Identify where your strengths are internally to galvanise your response teams
  • Highlight any needs to improve information flow
  • Enable business influencers to gather further support to improve resource capabilities
  • Measure impact from a brand reputation point of view

Anyways, these are just some of the things that will help any business develop their crisis management plan.

This is Andy Tran

A strategist, marketer and problem solver. 

Focusing on sharing topics and resources to help students and business professionals in leadership, branding, marketing and sales 
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