Most companies have a crisis communications plan addressing traditional media like television and newspapers. Few have transferred this preparedness to the social media space. It’s perplexing when you consider how rapidly social media can elevate your crisis. If you aren’t sure what to do, follow these tips:

Start Now
Don’t wait for a crisis to happen to understand social media tools. You won’t be able to do it. Begin building your audiences now, before a crisis has the chance to emerge.

Start with Monitoring
Monitoring for potential mentions of your company in the online space is essential for knowing what people are saying about your company (good or bad). It’s also critical to giving you a “heads up” about any potential issues or crises that may be arising. Monitor everything since conversations can happen across all channels, including:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Blogs
  • Microcommunities
  • Customer Networks
  • Google and Yahoo Groups

Include Social Media in Your Crisis Plan 

  • Identify who owns the social media response. During a crisis isn’t the time to argue about jurisdiction. Handle those battles now, before a crisis ensues.
  • Include a social media policy.
  • Since much of your communication will be video, make sure you have a trained spokesperson who’s good on camera, an established YouTube channel, and a video crew who can be activated at a moment’s notice.
  • Consult a communications expert to help you prepare messaging in advance. Don’t forget the web. While blogs, Twitter, RSS Feeds and Facebook are all essential to getting your message out, websites are still a go-to source in times of emergency. Don’t wait for an crisis to have a plan/process for fast updates.

Be Genuine in Your Response
A social media audience in an engaged audience. If your company is at fault, be sincere about admitting the error, apologize, and provide a list of the specific actions you will take to fix the error and prevent it from happening again. After you’ve completed your mass response, give individual, personal attention to your key influencers with personal responses just to them.