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How to Build and Execute a Crisis Communication Social Media Plan

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2020 has caused a disruption in workflow and organizational operations. We are living in a situation that has been dubbed the new normal - a period of economic and social restructuring and upheaval. During such critical times, it is crucial for brands and industry leaders to maintain a strong crisis communication strategy. 

It is easy for a PR crisis to spiral out of control during periods of high tension. News and trends travel like wildfire on social media as customers and clients share their views in real-time.

Via social media management, brands can connect with their audience despite the panic and separation. Additionally, there has been a surge in social media use in various outlets during the pandemic season, bringing about a new wave of social interaction. Thus, social media management is a priority at this juncture that may pay dividends in the long haul.

The ideal crisis communication plan should enable account managers to respond quickly to a potential consumer issue, avoid chaotic PR crises, and without tedious authorization from top management. This can be achieved by setting up a comprehensive social media policy beforehand and analyzing key consumer metrics.

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Clear Social Media Policy

Employees should be informed of the brand's social media policy from the beginning. This includes outlining the details on copyrights, privacies, confidentialities, and the style of communication (voice of the brand). Social media managers should clarify the rules and expectations required for each individual who has access to the brand's social media accounts.

The policy should inform employees on third-party content use, the appropriate language (according to the brand's direction/culture), and when a sensitive topic should be relegated to a PM. A structure set in place will help the team respond effectively and professionally under all circumstances.

Social Media Monitoring

The first step in social media crisis communication involves the monitoring of insightful data. Prevention is often better than cure. As such, it is crucial to accumulate analyzed social media trends before a full-blown crisis. There are some key metrics that should be obtained from various social media channels.

These include industry trends, and what customers are saying about your brand. Social media account managers need to track social elements related to the business, which include:

    • Brand name
    • Relevant keywords associated with the brand
    • brand name of competitors
    • name of marketing campaigns (including slogans)
    • key individuals working in the company (i.e. president and CEO)
    • hashtags related to the industry

Brands can learn a great deal from the complaints, compliments, and reviews of customers across social media. This will help managers decide which strategies are working, and which require some tweaking.

It is also necessary to check where the reviews originate from as perspectives vary among social media channels. For instance, a LinkedIn user might provide a professional opinion on a SaaS (software as a service) product while Facebook reviewers might offer insights from an everyday user.

Brands should collect data from multiple social media outlets to paint a complete picture of consumer sentiments.

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Social Listening

Brands should proceed with action once the relevant metrics have been identified and collected. While social monitoring can help in some instances, such as a/b testing of a product launch, or ROI for an online campaign, it does not establish the social sentiment behind consumer opinion and decisions. Social sentiment refers to how customers feel about the brand, its products, and marketing direction. Social listening is the only means of access to social sentiment.

Social listening requires brands to react to consumers according to their feedback. If a consumer leaves a positive Twitter comment regarding a product, managers can respond with appreciation.

This also means prompt responses to the customers' social media queries regarding products and services. Managers should provide a direct response to clear all doubts via DM where possible.

Additionally, brands can take the initiative in responding to a spotted consumer trend, before a customer sounds it out. Such proactive practice is likely to win favors as it demonstrates that the brand is constantly looking out to provide the best experience for its customers.

The combination of social listening and a clear social media policy will help brands maintain a positive online presence and avoid the harshest PR setbacks.

Bringing it all together

Brands can benefit significantly during these trying times from an expert provider of crisis communication solutions.

Nifty Method is a full-service agency that provides specialized marketing, consulting, training, strategic content, and more, to help your business thrive through any period of uncertainty. Let's get started today to avert any risk tomorrow.