Social Media Crisis 101: Help Navigating a Social Media Meltdown

Topics: Small Business Advice Small Business

Having a social media program is a must have marketing tool for small businesses. When faced with a problem, an unsatisfied customer will often complain directly to your small business, allowing you the chance to fix the problem before it escalates further. However, sometimes, a complaint against your business is taken straight to social media. If that client's negative post gains traction or goes without a response, you could be facing a "social media crisis." In these situations, you need to act quickly; failing to put out those online flames can damage your brand's reputation and scare clients away.


What is Considered a Social Media Crisis?


One poor review isn't a crisis - but if that review is being reposted widely, is particularly negative, or there are multiple people commenting about the same issue, your company may have a social media meltdown on its hands. To identify a social media crisis, it's vital to regularly monitor your online presence. Consider creating alert notifications on social media for mentions or hashtags relating to your company, its main products, your CEO, and even your competitors.

Once these alerts are set up, watch for any signs of trouble, such as a sudden increase in negative posts. Hootsuite recommends investigating the situation anytime you get over five negative posts within an hour. When that number rises to 10, your company is likely facing an online meltdown, especially if the information being spread is slanderous, suggests legal action, or could damage your brand's reputation.


Create a Social Media Crisis Squad


When online disaster strikes, you need to be prepared. Ideally, you're already outfitted with the right cyber liability insurance to lower your liability exposure in the event of a lawsuit. Another measure of protection can be the creation of a crisis management team, where each member has specific and defined roles to perform. Remember: Fast action is generally essential in the world of social media. Having a legal representative on speed dial in the event of a social crisis is also strongly advised. Since time is essential during a social media crisis, your response team and plan should be established well in advance of an actual issue. Select individuals who are team players with excellent communication skills. While forming your crisis management squad, ask yourself the following questions:

• Who will monitor social media before, during, and after a crisis?
• Who will lead this team to ensure everyone knows their roles?
• Who will speak to the press, the management, the key stakeholders, and the rest of my staff?
• Who will navigate social media and customer-facing communication by drafting responses and replying to questions posted on social media sites and any other widely used online forums outside of social sites?
• How can I enable my team to make decisions and act quickly and effectively?


How to Respond Correctly


After identifying a social media crisis, your crisis management team doesn't have much time. Consider these tips to help handle the situation without wasting a second:

Act fast and work together. Before tackling the crisis, the team leader should remind the members of their predetermined roles. Quickly draft an action plan that includes what stance the company will take how it will reply to individual comments on social media, and how to face any potential liability claims. Once you have a strategy in place, it's time to get to work.

Acknowledge the crisis. You should publicly acknowledge a social media crisis on the platform where it originated first before reacting elsewhere. Your company's official response should be sincere and non-defensive in its wording. If responding to multiple comments on the same issue, avoid canned or automated replies. This can be as simple as varying the wording or phrases used when responding from person to person. And, before going public, it's always a good idea to ask a legal representative to read over your statement and consider having a high-ranking member of your company sign it.

• Communicate internally. As you're handling the external damage on social media, keep your other employees in the loop to avoid the internal circulation of rumors and gossip. Tell your workplace that the situation is being addressed and ask them not to speak to the media or post about the crisis online.

 • Stay covered. Finally, to help with potential future legal fallout from a social media meltdown, ensure your small business has the insurance coverage to help stay financially protected.


AmTrust Assists With Small Business Insurance Needs


AmTrust Financial provides small business owners with a variety of property and casualty insurance options. Contact us today to learn more about our small business insurance options.

This material is for informational purposes only and is not legal or business advice. Neither AmTrust Financial Services, Inc. nor any of its subsidiaries or affiliates represents or warrants that the information contained herein is appropriate or suitable for any specific business or legal purpose. Readers seeking resolution of specific questions should consult their business and/or legal advisors. Coverages may vary by location. Contact with your local RSM for more information.
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