1. Have a plan
Every brand should have a social media policy and a community management plan. There must be a clear understanding of the steps that need to be taken should a PR crisis arise. Your plan should include having easy access your Terms of Service, so you can reference them if needed. You should also compile a list of people within your company who must be notified.
2. Pay attention
The most important thing you need to do is pay attention to what people are saying. Wading blindly into a crisis without having your arms around all the moving parts is not a good practice and can exacerbate an already-horrible situation.
3. Know what the crisis is
It’s very important to understand what the social media crisis really is, how it originated, how the fans or customers have been affected, and why others are rallying behind the issue. Use social media listening tools to monitor conversations both inside and outside your brand — this will help you shape an insightful and compassionate brand response.
4. Acknowledge it as quickly as you can
Speed matters in today’s fast-paced digital conversations. Your initial response should let the public know that you are acknowledging the issue, because ignoring it just makes everything worse. Being as transparent as possible — as quickly as possible — is the way to go.
5. Let people vent
When you respond to a social media crisis, it’s best to do so on a page you administer, such as your Twitter or Facebook profile. This will help you control the conversation.
6. Keep your cool
Never get into a public argument with users by posting something negative or argumentative in response to their comments. Doing so will only make matters worse. It’s important to take a step back and put yourself in their position so you can empathize with what they’re experiencing.
7. Create an area to house information
Develop an area on your website or blog that contains all of the information about the crisis and what your company is doing about it. When you respond to users and fans, you can send them there directly to help streamline communication.
8. Turn a negative into a positive
If you did something wrong, say so. Instead of trying to figure out where the blame lies, turn upset fans into loyal customers by taking responsibility for your actions. Own up to the issue instead of deleting customer comments about it, because deleting negative messages instead of addressing them will only add fuel to the social media fire.