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How to Handle a Social Media Crisis the Right Way

“Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”

Mike Tyson famously said those words as he was talking to reporters about his fighting strategy before one of his fights. This quote should not resemble your marketing plan. At some point your company will get “punched in the mouth” and your company’s marketing plan will be defined by how they handle it. Having a basic plan of action and constantly reinforcing it with your staff will help you manage a crisis smoothly.

Veet, a company that specializes in hair removal products for women, recently had a crisis and handled it rather poorly. On April 7, Veet posted on Facebook that their new commercial was going to air during “Dancing with the Stars” that night. They posted a link to it for their fans to see it early.

Unfortunately, people found the ad offensive and sexist, and they said as much on Veet’s Facebook page. What was Veet’s quick response? Nothing but a scheduled post the next day showing the offensive commercial again. Meanwhile, some of the offended people’s comments were getting several hundred likes from other offended people. After two days of silence, Veet finally posted a response saying they never meant to offend people. They promised to take down the ads on their social media sites, although they forgot one video which is still on their Facebook page. When you read the response, you can almost hear the annoyance and lack of compassion from their marketing team.  

One way to prevent a crisis from getting out of a hand is by listening to the conversations about your brand. The last thing you want is to leave complaints unattended for any length of time.

Usually in a crisis, people will all be complaining about the same thing. The first thing your team should do is create a pre-planned response that will be used as a launching point for your social media managers to use. Address the issue first on the site where the complaints started. If people are commenting on your Facebook page, then draft an apology there before moving on to other social media sites.

In most cases, there are multiple employees who have access to all your social media accounts so make sure everyone is crystal clear about their role. An inconsistent message will only worsen the situation. Do not copy and paste the same response to every complaint; this is as bad as deleting the negative comments.

Double check that all scheduled posts are turned off on all of your social media sites. Promoting your brand instead of addressing the problem will look like you are not taking this issue seriously.

The most important thing to remember is to be as transparent as possible during a crisis. You will not be able to please everyone and that’s simply a fact. You’re human and humans make mistakes. If you are genuine with your apologies and follow through with your promises, people will forgive your brand much faster.

Every crisis is a learning experience. You should look back and see what worked. Afterwards, head back to the drawing board to reevaluate your crisis strategy.

Have you witnessed a brand handling a crisis? How did they do? Let me know in the comments below or connect with me on Twitter.