A social media content crisis is a potentially life-threatening disaster to any business. While there are so many positives about social media, some of those same advantages make for very dangerous conditions when a crisis is involved.
Because your audience is so big online, and because they can see, share, and comment instantaneously, a crisis can spread like wildfire and get out of control very quickly. To deal with a content crisis, you need to act fast. You social media manager needs to be notified, and here are the things he should know about.
The Who, What, Where, and When
Sometimes businesses – more specifically, individual employees of businesses – post regrettable content. It could be a joke that went over badly, a careless comment, a factual error, or anything that would be ill-received by your fans and followers. You social media manager should find out who exactly posted the offensive material, what it was, when it was posted, and where it was posted.
Hopefully, the questionable content has been removed already. If not, it needs to be taken down immediately. A copy of it should be preserved, along with all the comments that were left on the post, and presented to your social media manager. The responsibility party should be identified in case more information – or personnel action – is needed.
A social media manager needs to find out the purpose or original intent of the offensive content. It is likely that the material was posted with good intentions. Letting the public know the good intent behind the post – and admitting that it went horribly wrong – is important. The “why” of the content could also lead to other unresolved issues that are behind the posting.
Perhaps the most important thing a social media manager needs to know is how the content came to be posted. While this can’t help much in the immediate crisis, the “how” is what will help prevent the same crisis from happening ever again. Is there a lack of social media supervision?
Is there a break in the chain of command? Is there a poor filtering process? Is there no type of approval system for content before it is placed online? The manager needs to identify the cracks that allowed the offensive content to slip through and close them as soon as possible.
The social media manager should also know about any responses that were given by anyone in the company. For example, did someone already post a retraction or apology? Did anyone respond to fan comments, either on the original post or elsewhere?
There should also be plenty of information regarding the public response and scope of the crisis. How many times was the post shared or retweeted before it was taken down? How many people commented? How many people have mentioned the company or the crisis in tweets?
Is there any other press being generated, such as by a blog or niche new organization? These initial and current responses will help your social media manager assess the crisis and decide how to proceed toward resolving it.