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Social media crisis management

Social media, digital media, the new media, call it what you will, has the unique ability to break and make stories.

Now that just about everyone has a smart phone it’s not surprising that crises often arise and are then amplified by social media. And as those who work in crisis management know, an early presence by an organization in crisis is essential as it shows the organisation is aware of the problem and has a plan in place to solve it. Social media is the perfect platform to disseminate messages to as wide an audience as possible.

If you don’t understand Twitter and other social media platforms, you are missing a major part of the crisis management jigsaw.

Part of that is understanding how social media works; it’s forced change on communications professionals in many ways.

THE CHANGING FACE OF DIGITAL COMMUNICATION

In days gone by it was a case of we speak and you listen, with PR departments putting out press releases which were then picked up by the press who acted as a conduit transmitting messages to the wider public.

It doesn’t work like that anymore – it’s no longer top down. In the past we communicated to our audiences; now, because of digital media, we must communicate with our audiences – it’s a two-way street. Above all we must listen to what individuals are saying about our organisation and, if we have the resources, respond accordingly.

SOCIAL MEDIA crisis management UPS AND DOWNS

The upside
  • It allows you an immediate voice and presence. It proves you’re aware of the situation and are doing something about it – at the start of a crisis, update early and often; create your own #hashtags
  • It can act as an early warning system – monitoring is essential as crises often surface on social
  • It lets you see how your mitigation efforts are playing in a public forum.
  • Helps track the progress of recovery.
The downside
  • Some segments of society don’t use social media, so your messages may not reach an intended audience – think hi tech and low tech when selecting your message channels. Sometimes a megaphone is more effective than a smart phone
  • Information sourced from social can be inaccurate. A lot of people (to put it mildly) aren’t telling the truth. Hoaxes and trolls are everywhere.
  • It requires staff to monitor and create effective digital messages – don’t start using social media for the first time in the teeth of an incident
  • It can fan the flames of negative opinion aimed at your organisation.

SOCIAL MEDIA crisis management PLANning

As companies rely more and more on social media for marketing, crisis managers need to help companies disentangle marketing social media from crisis social media.

Effective social media crisis management requires an investment in time to understand how social works and above all a crisis social media plan to combat a social media crisis. Crisis Solutions has the unique ability to help you write a crisis social media plan and then test it during a social media crisis simulation.

Read more here: ‘I just don’t get Twitter’

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