In times of crisis, such as the pandemic, business communications can sometimes become unmanageable, controversial or chaotic.
A tiny spark can set a forest aflame, and even a small negative comment on social media about an organization can harm its good reputation and business.
If not prevented or if left unchecked, the message can go viral throughout the online community, then get noticed by the mainline news media and become part of the consciousness of the public. Many companies, especially during this stressful time, are facing such risks – and many are likely to.
Why is there an increase in social media complaints during this pandemic era? How can executives prevent a crisis? And should you best deal with these situations?
This article provides various viewpoints
Why the Spike in Controversial Social Media Posts?
How to Prevent and Prepare for a Social media Crisis?
With proper foresight and planning, executives can not only prevent and prepare for a communications crisis, but also manage, respond and recover from social media risks and emerge stronger using the following three key components.
Create structures, policies, and accountabilities to manage social media risk that includes social media usage policies, risk tolerance levels and a model for crisis management. Ensure the company’s culture emphasizes the policies developed for all aspects of its operations including:
Identify, analyze and respond to social media risk factors in the best interest of its objectives by controlling possible future risk events through a robust risk management plan and processes. Following are the social media risk management process steps:
Leverage technology solutions designed to quantify and predict the impact of risks and fuel decision making based on risk tolerance levels. Such systems are helping companies from various sectors make data-driven decisions.
Best Practices for Social Media Risk Management
How to Deal with a Communications Crisis if it has Already Occurred?
Act Quickly and Decisively
If a crisis has already occurred, respond fast to ensure that it doesn’t take a life of its own and other readers comment on the original issue. Once on social media, it’s already too late to stop the bleeding. Immediate response stops a problem from growing and shows you are willing to resolve the issue.
Do Your Research
Understand the negative comments. Research their case within your organization before further responding. Define processes for official statements and approvals or follow the instructions if already available in the crisis manual. Quickly author a clear, factual statement for the online community.
Steer the Conversation to a Different Adequate Channel
Offer to connect with the individual on a different channel giving assurance that the issue will be addressed.
Be Realistic – Honesty and Candor are Important
If a mistake happened from your side, it’s best to take charge and break your own bad news. Taking responsibility for mistakes is the foundation of trust. Executives and companies that have a reputation for honesty and transparency may continue to win trust. Their candor gives a clear ring of truth.
Be Consistent and Accurate
The team must exactly know how to answer the questions and allegations. Compile all the appropriate information on the case to be able to answer accurately.
Provide a Solution
Propose a solution to the problem. If not, the issue can stay online and spread at a much faster pace.
If the issue is exaggerated and you are interacting with it on social media, resolve it publicly, tone it down, and share the facts if there is misinformation.
If Need be, Stop the Scheduled Posts During the Crisis
During a complex crisis time, avoid posting according to the regular editorial plan.
Ensure Compliance with the Regulatory Requirements
Know the current regulatory requirements of the issue and the statutory requirements of the social channel to avoid non-compliance.
With proper governance, a risk management plan, process and the right systems for risk mitigation, executives can not only avoid social media explosions but also emerge stronger in the new normal.
It is like a double-edged sword as if you don’t respond, things can go from bad to worse. If you do not respond in a timely fashion, the situation can worsen. However, it’s also an opportunity to showcase good practices and that there’s continuous improvement and honesty among your stakeholders. You will come out stronger as a company. Bad communication happens everywhere but these are times to show your integrity.
Perform with Integrity™! The MetricStream Way.
Priyabrata Manages MetricStream University & ComplianceOnline functions for MetricStream which enable partners and customers through training, content and expert services.