Connecting with a target audience on social media requires forethought, tact, and care. Often, when a crisis erupts, pressure hits an all-time high, leaving companies wondering what to say when their brands’ future is uncertain. The scenario is worsened when issues bombard a brand by the minute or hour.
With social media, crisis communication teams have to focus on how to help affected stakeholders. As more-and-more catastrophes stream on social media, teams working with social media should help key audiences and communities overcome hardships.
So, as situations go on a tailspin, how can social media help ensure timely crisis communication and strengthen connections and trust with a brand’s audience?
Assess and Possibly Pause Social Calendars
In a crisis, contexts can easily shift and may lead brands to seem tone-deaf when their messages seem to misinform their republics. Where upcoming posts have been scheduled, and a crisis occurs, unscheduling the posts is key.
Take the example of the mouthy Pop-Tarts Twitter account. The brand paused its social media calendar for 10 days when COVID-19 reared its head in North America. This helped the brand to create a message that was on-brand, reassuring, and also humane.
Have an Official Social Media Policy
While predicting crises isn’t possible, preparing for them is possible. For large organizations, having an official social media policy is the surest way of responding rapidly and effectively to a crisis. With a good policy, crisis communication teams have a flexible but effective, response process. At the same time, crisis communication teams have access to essential information needed to move forward.
What’s more, having an official social media policy helps share duties with employees when one of the employees is affected by a crisis.
Some key components that a brand can have in their social media policy include a comprehensive emergency contact list—comprising the social media team, executive decision-makers, and legal advisors–, guidelines on how to assess a crisis, an employees’ internal communication plan, and processes for approving a response strategy.
Employ Social Media Listening
Social media monitoring and listening is a key strategy for timely responses to a crisis. Once a crisis hits, brands should employ tailored social listening strategies to get the pulse of audience sentiments about a brand.
At the same time, employing social media listening helps brands track their competitors and industries in response to a crisis. Understanding how competitors respond to an emergency and how customers respond to their responses helps create a tailored social media strategy. Ultimately, social listening helps cut a brand’s response time to a crisis.
Thankfully, brands can employ various social listening tools in the market to track mentions, conversations, and search terms across networks.
While overcoming a crisis can be challenging, brands shouldn’t spin a crisis. Staying away from showy moves will help brands communicate promptly while avoiding the bad after-taste and negative effects on a brand’s relationships.
That said: brands should communicate clearly in an emergency, avoiding teaser strategies that may muddy a brand’s social media efforts. The ultimate result will be a timely response to crises via social media.