How to Spot a Social Media Crisis

How to Spot a Social Media Crisis

When it relates to social content, the word crisis is often used to describe things like a single negative tweet or an isolated customer complaint. The sheer terror associated with the possibility of a nasty comment can sometimes cause brands to create content strategies that are so benign, they would never incite any engagement in the first place. Or worse, these sorts of “crises” are sometimes reasons that companies resist getting involved in social media altogether.

But here’s the thing: with social media, companies need to embrace all conversation. The good and the bad. And a bad conversation isn’t a crisis.

I have had my fair share of crisis experience. I started my career working for a tech company during their bankruptcy proceedings. I helped another company manage a hashtag takeover resulting in more than 5,000 negative tweets in less than 8 hours. I managed the details of widespread social criticism of a food brand under fire following a scathing exposé of their animal welfare practices. I’ve been the recipient of death threats on Twitter.

These examples, my friends, are real crises.

Identifying a social media crisis may seem like an abundantly obvious thing. However, I see the term being use incorrectly all the time. Still, companies refer to a couple negative comments on Facebook as a crisis, impulsively calling their agency to remove the comments, or their entire social profile altogether!

If you ever think you might have a crisis on your hands, ask yourself the following questions first:

  • Is this a change from the norm in a significant way? If you normally get 10 comments a day, and suddenly, you get 100, this could signal a crisis. (Unless all the comments are glowing praise. Then pat yourself on the back and give your social media person a raise!).
  • Has the social conversation now become a story in itself? If the negative social conversation ever becomes its own headline, you have a problem.
  • Does the internet know something we don’t: If you find out about a problem or issue with your business via Twitter or another social platform, swift action is required.

If you answered yes to any of the above questions, you could have a real crisis on your hands.

Now, this is not to say that you should ever ignore isolated negative comments in social. I’m also not suggesting you should shrug off a customer service complaint. Acknowledging, responding and monitoring these comments are all key to mitigating potentially larger problems. Negative feedback sucks, but listening to your customers in this way can help you be a better business. Think of it as a free focus group. Remember: you have to accept all feedback, both good and bad.

If you do have a crisis, what next? Take a deep breath and…check out this recent post, or get in touch. We can help.