Recent events like United Airlines scandal have reinforced the importance for brands to have a solid crisis management plan in place for their social media channels and be ready to action them at any time ( just in case one of your employees beats up an airline passenger or makes apolitically insensitive advert with Kylie Jenner) Accidents can happen and sometimes embarrassing incidents are out of our control but rest assured when the public want to air their grievances they will resort to social media to be heard and the world is listening.  So what can we do when the s*** hits the fan and the your brand is feeling the wrath of social scorn.

  • Have a decision hierarchy in place and make sure your team know it. The last thing you want to do is have an inexperienced team member add fuel to the fire by trying to respond to social backlash on their own. Let everyone know if a crisis happens that the official line of response. If you are at the top of that line, decide your company stance and then make sure everyone knows the official line before responding to comments. If you are unavailable when this decision is needed then have a second in command you trust to advise every one of your stance.
  • Don’t get too defensive or argumentative, Even if you feel strongly about an issue – make as diplomatic a statement or response as you can.
  • Apologise if you feel you need to and be sincere about it, United Airlines didn’t help themselves by not apologising straight away after their passenger assault scandal.
  • Don’t put your head in the sand. You don’t need to respond to every comment or public post and you can remove posts that are offensive and block users that are particularly vocal or offensive but if you block all comments or delete them you can make the situation worse for yourself than dealing with the issue.
  • Use humour when appropriate and laugh at yourself. If it’s not a sensitive issue and you did something like ran an ad campaign with a spelling mistake and its too late to recall it – them laugh at yourself and get involved with the social commentary. A brilliant example of this is Woollies customer service team who regularly respond to customer complaints with humour. See the Spaghetti rap battle here.
  • Also look at this example from UK supermarket Tesco– RIP Willie the worm 

It is frustrating that Facebook has become a place for disgruntled customers to air their grievances instead of using your actual customer service channels and you can’t please everyone but with a solid Crisis plan you can avoid making matter worse for yourself.