The Ten Commandments of Social Media Crisis Management

Writing for BuzzBin, Priya Ramesh does a good job listing the Ten Commandments of Social Media Crisis Management, but I think it needs one more.  Here’s Priya’s 10 (condensed by me) and my essential 11th:

1. Thou shalt move at lightning speed: This demands a sense of urgency to react in a matter of hours and not days.
2. Thou shalt build a micro-site to provide 24/7 updates: This serves as THE go-to site for all up-to-date information on the situation.
3. Thou shalt deploy a round the clock Twitter monitoring schedule: Simply by monitoring and responding to tweets, you are letting the audience know their outpour is being heard on social channels.
4. Thou shalt NOT delete negative comments on the crisis: By deleting negative chatter during a crisis, you are only aggravating the situation.
5. Thou shalt train your crisis team on social media: Crisis communication in 140 characters is very different from issuing a press release or calling a press conference.
6. Thou shalt be willing to say “Sorry” openly on the WWW: Get used to openly apologizing on social networks and take full responsibility for the crisis.
7. Thou shalt create hyper-transparency on the crisis situation: The more you are open to sharing information on social networks to build transparency, the better.
8. Thou shalt proactively alert bloggers on PR crises if you can: This is a very powerful tactic to neutralize the negative sentiment online.
9. Thou shalt NOT feed the troll: There will always be a set of constant complainers who thrive on crises and leverage the situation to further badmouth your company –  disengage them.
10. Thou shalt not merely blog and tweet for crisis’ sake but LISTEN and ENGAGE: Companies that demonstrate that they have listened and taken the right action are the ones that maintain a favorable image online.

And here’s an essential additional step from me:

11. Thou shalt own your social media identity: Take steps now to ensure that social media accounts related to your company, its brands and executives are created and already under your control. After the jump,  why this is so important:

Waiting for the fire to flare to do so starts you off at a disadvantage. At a minimum, create social media accounts on Twitter; Facebook and LinkedIn so that detractors can’t create them to criticize or parody your legitimate actions.

Create lookalike or alternatively spelled accounts and park them with no activity to preempt their creation by others. Social media networks don’t want you to do this, but I think it is essential for protecting your brand.

Monitor social networks for copycats and contact the network to take down accounts that portend to be from your company. Remember the lesson learned from the BP oil crisis where the Twitter account @BPGlobalPR was created, looking to all the world to be a legitimately named offical company account, only to issue more than 500 tweets, such as:

  • If Top Kill doesn’t work, we’re just gonna toss a giant “Get Well Soon” card into the gulf and hope for the best. #bpcares
  • The ocean looks just a bit slimmer today. Dressing it in black really did the trick! #bpcares
  • If we had a dollar for every complaint about this oil spill, it wouldn’t compare to our current fortune. Oil is a lucrative industry!

The BPGlobalPR Twitter account still exists, is still active and has over 180K followers.

You get the point. Don’t let your brand be hijacked!

About Ron Casalotti
I am part of that lucky generation that started out when watching TV meant choosing from three networks, three independents and PBS. Now, I work in new media for businesses and organizations - but these thoughts are my own.

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