What is Social Media Crisis Management?

What is Social Media Crisis Management?

It doesn’t matter what you call social media crisis management, you could say ‘damage control’ or ‘risk limitation’. It’s the same thing. An incident occurs that needs to be handled before it affects the reputation of the company. Long term this protects the bottom line and therefore viability of trading. 

In this blog, I am going to break down a very long and complex area of Public Relations into one small avenue: Social Media. Let’s start at the very beginning, as Julie Andrews said ‘it’s a very good place to start.’

How do you get to the point of a social media crisis?

Initially there will be an incident. For example, let’s say this is a complaint on Facebook or Twitter that is ignored. Occasionally the ‘incident’ is exacerbated and may go viral, which means outsiders are now aware of the issue. This is now a problem.
Once it has been thrown around the web and is blown out of proportion, CEO’s and directors become aware of the issue. Perhaps the media picks it up. Along the way someone becomes aware of a problem with the company’s product or service. As a result, sales suffer a massive hit and perhaps there are online petitions boycotting you. Shops refuse to stock your product. Staff are nervous they will lose their jobs and performance and morale starts to suffer. In turn the company runs less efficiently. I think we can all agree this is a full-blown crisis!

How should you deal with a social media crisis?

There should be a solid risk and escalation process in place that ensures all relevant persons are prepared for how they should react when issues do arise, including prepared answers to potential questions.
Most importantly; do not bite back. Never allow a knee-jerk reaction to come into play. It is certainly advisable to rebuke or address false statements or misinformation but this should be carried out in a consistent manner with a clear message.
Often transparency is important. Be honest and open with your customers about what has happened.

How do I know I need crisis management?

social media marketing agency

The most important steps should happen before the incident happens. Again; you should have a clear plan in place. When entering the social media arena, you should be risk conscious. Have a process in place that includes predetermined responses to identified issues and moderation guidelines.
This way if an incident occurs you can deal with it whilst it is small.
In conclusion, when working with social media it is vital to pledge the suitable level of resourcing to managing your social media platforms. It is important to protect your brand from damage and always remember your duty of care to your customers or audience.

Let’s face it; it’s hard to always be correct. Even for brands and big corporations who have people working for them overnight to keep their online marketing untarnished. After all, in our highly connected, modern lives, even the most successful people have human faces and can make mistakes.

Reputations are more fragile than everbefore within the online world today. Social media can seem like a minefield. Therefore, it is important to learn from those mistakes made by brands and their social media crisis management agencies if you want to start seeing results.

Examples of social media crisis management.

Hard selling is a marketing tool of the past. Web savvy buyers and social media browsers will soon look past this convoluted marketing speak and choose to ignore it altogether. Instead consumers are searching for a credible business they can trust.


 In April 2012, a KFC outlet in Thailand made a marketing faux pas and suggested that people should rush home to watch the earthquake unfold whilst munching on their southern-fried chicken. Unsurprisingly, this insensitivity portrayed the fast food outlet in a reckless way. Think about what you post before you make it public. 


I could well be stating the obvious here, yet cursing online can make a company or individual appear irresponsible. So why would you send out an offensive post, even if it was an accident? One of the in-house marketing team that handles Chrysler’s social media, accidentally posted from the company’s Twitter account instead of a personal one. 

Someone from the team tweeted “f***ing’ driving skills of the #motorcity residents.” Unsurprisingly Chrysler shortly issued a public letter of apology.

Lack of foresight. 

McDonald’s launched a Twitter campaign to try and bring together what they thought would be a ‘Twitter feed party’. Full of happy McDonald’s memories shared among fans. Instead, the strategy backfired terribly and within a couple of hours the #McDStories stream was chockfull with complaints of fingernails in the food and upset stomachs. Naturally this campaign was quickly removed.

These examples emphasise the backlash social media presents. There were several problems with each of the campaigns purely because the brands were naïve and unfocused.

Here at VerriBerri, our social media crisis management agency, has an experienced social media team who produce engaging and organic content. If you would like assistance with your social media marketing, get in touch today!