7 Tips for Using Social Media in a Brand Crisis

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No matter how closely you manage and monitor your brand’s communications, a crisis can strike out of nowhere at virtually any time. Name the scenario: a customer being harmed by your product or service, a team member shooting their mouth off on Twitter or an activist group targeting your company for one of a variety of reasons. These are just three examples of crises that can harm your brand.

social-crisis-coolerEngaging the public on social media is one of the most effective—and dangerous—ways of handling a brand crisis. It runs 24-7, it can reach around the world in a heartbeat and it offers you a greater degree of control over your message than traditional media, provided you use it correctly.

Here are some key points to remember when dealing with a crisis on social media, courtesy of Lexie Riegelhaupt, director of marketing and communications at Mashable, and Rick Wion, executive director of strategy at Manifest Social.

  • Know where your community is on social. You can more effectively communicate with your audience if you know where they are getting their information.
  • Tailor your message to the social network’s audience. Different networks have different parameters for communications. Each platform also has its favored demographics, whether that is age, gender or corporate sector.
  • Be informative, not defensive. Taking a defensive tone indicates that you have something to hide. Share the facts as you know them and leave it at that.
  • Be clear, concise and accurate. This is the mantra of any good communicator.
  • Everything you publish on social is considered on the record. Approach all your social media communications as if everyone will read what you write.
  • Have a backup plan. A crisis can unfold in a number of unpredictable ways. Give thought to alternative ways of handling the situation.
  • Don't rely solely on social media. Don't forget that some people are never on social media, and only use their mobile devices to make phone calls.

To learn more about brand communications on social media, join PR News for the Digital PR Conference, taking place in Miami on June 1-3.

Follow Richard Brownell on Twitter: @RickBrownell