Managing social Media PR crisis

It’s every brand manager’s worst nightmare: an online crisis that has taken on a life of its own and is posing a real threat to your brand reputation.

It could be a negative comment from a customer that’s gone viral, an online reaction to a brand action in the ‘real world’ or an accidental post by a staff member.

But social media monitoring can help avoid situations such as this arising – or can help you regain control if one should occur.

Be prepared

Firstly, you should be using a monitoring tool to track mentions of your brand on an ongoing basis and there should be someone responsible for keeping track of it. This may be a brand manager or community manager, or a whole team.

Have a plan or protocol for what to do should things go wrong – it’s impossible to predict every eventuality, but some rough guidelines around how responses will be dealt with and by whom, and a plan for internal communication, will be invaluable should a crisis hit.

Using buzz as an Early Warning System

The most obvious method for determining possible crises is to monitor the volume of conversation about your brand online.

By looking into the conversation you will have a greater understanding of why volumes have increased and can then act on it appropriately before it escalates.

Topics

Keep a close eye on common topics within conversation about your brand. You can identify topics using automated topic analysis, such as the topics component in Brandwatch, or by pre-defined rules and categorisation.

Take notice if there is a sudden change or increase in a particular category, as this might be an indication of growing discontent. If negative phrases and words or new phrases start appearing in your topic cloud, this should ring alarm bells and needs further analysis.

Often, if you can identify problems early on and quickly act on them, you can avoid the situation escalating – and becoming more public. You may find that the issue is due to your marketing angle, or become aware of defaults with your product that you can then correct.

Monitor & respond

It’s a good idea to monitor conversation about your brand and respond to negative posts on a regular basis. Customers who are angry or dissatisfied are likely to be get more indignant and angry when they feel they are being ignored.

Take the case of Ryanair last year – a simple response to the original post complaining could’ve avoided a customer complaint going viral and being spread across the internet like wildfire.

For a brand such as Ryanair, that has stated in the past that it is not particularly bothered about customer service, this situation was somewhat less damaging than it would have been to a company that prides itself on customer service.

Alerts

We recently discussed all the different types of alerts that are possible with Brandwatch that can help with PR management, so we won’t go into them all in detail again here. But, in brief, alerts can be set up to email you when there are increases in volume, or even alert you every time specific words or phrases are used, meaning you can stay on top of possible problems wherever you are.

What to do next?

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