During a crisis and in the era of the Internet and social media, there is a high chance that you might hear of it from social media. More than ever, business catastrophes are much talked, evaluated, and criticized on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Social media has given a whole new meaning to armchair activism, and keyboard warriors have made the field a free-for-all where the fates of brands can be made or destroyed within just a few paragraphs worth of content.
56% of the Indian population gets news from the internet, especially social media than traditional platforms like newspapers. Be it a global crisis like the novel Coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) or a business outbreak, connecting with your stakeholders on the social media platforms requires a quick tactful and effective response.
The world of social media is like a minefield, and you have to be very careful of your online representation. Before you know it, your social media and marketing team is under attack, not just by the huge outraged social media audience but also by the internal pressure. In these scenarios, your previously planned crisis management strategies could come in handy. When businesses plan ahead for potential crises situation, they are practically creating an insurance shield which safeguards them against the overnight devaluation of reputation. But like most well-laid plans, sometimes the sheer magnitude of criticism and the number of people you have to deal with is enough to derail all those plans and it is next to impossible to manage these social media wildfires with internal resources.
No business has ever been able to control the crisis, but they can definitely control their response to the same. Whatever crisis you face, you fight and aim to come out of it even stronger. But how do you fight using just the keyboard and a handful of marketing warriors on your side? Here are a few tips:
- Situational attunement With situations, the context changes. You need to shift more to the positive side and not push your product or service all the time. For example, during the COVID-19, brands have either become silent or posting more on creating health awareness.
- Social listening is a great thing to do during a crisis. This can help you understand customers’ and employees’ concerns better.
- A deft Response on tweets and posts can turn public anger to sympathy. Attention gets shifted from the problem to the prompt, imaginative, humble response. The response window is only 15 minutes on Twitter, just to give you an idea of the kind of preparedness and availability you need from your digital PR teams.
- Create a Crisis team, a pack of specialists that you can count on to work upon handling the situation, or attaining the desired communication goal. In this case, a group of social media experts to post continuous updates, answer concerns and questions, handling customer support, quashing rumors, and broadcasting major positive developments.
The truth is a lot simpler: social media has, of course, changed the way in which reputations are managed but the principles of effective crisis management in public relations remain the same. Times have changed where ‘ordinary’ people can more easily contribute to the way we think about an organisation. People have more expectations of transparency and engagement from brands. There is a new expectation of openness, transparency, and engagement. But, fundamentally, social media is just another necessary communication channel that can be used successfully to support the wider crisis communication response.
About the Author:
Suraj Jadhav – He is a digital Associate at K2 Communications Pvt. Ltd. & helps formulate digital strategies as well as content creation for various digital platforms. He has significant exposure on SEO, Social Media, Email Marketing and Ads, since he has been freelancing with start-ups and solopreneurs, helping them grow their personal and professional brands. When not brainstorming, Suraj enjoys teaching engineering students and hiking.