How to Handle a Social Media Crisis

How would you deal with a social media crisis? Has it crossed your mind in dealing with a social media crisis? Do you know what to do if something does go wrong?

In the age of social media, even the slightest predicament can quickly gain momentum and get out of control. If you are prepared, it is much easier to manage your company’s reputation and come through a crisis unharmed. In this blog, you will see tips on how to effectively deal with a social media crisis.

What is a social media crisis?

If there is a high volume of incoming social media messages on one particular topic, chances are you have a social media crisis on your hands.

Two things can cause a social media crisis. First, external factors such as a natural disaster, human tragedy or something related to your industry can cause people to reach out to your social media accounts. Second, a social media crisis can be initiated on the platform itself due to an insensitive tweet or inappropriate picture.

Waiting for a social media crisis to blow over is never an option. If you ignore it, it will likely get worse. Social media can be an asset in a crisis when used correctly, not an extra problem. Here is what you need to do to come out on the other side of a crisis with your company’s reputation intact.

Have a contingency plan

A social media crisis consumes both time and money. When you are in crisis mode, you feel like you are in over your head.

Map out what you would need to respond to a social media crisis ahead of time. Come up with a variety of scenarios, so you can take control of any situation when the time comes. Additionally, create a social media committee that involves people from the entire company and meets on a regular basis (weekly or monthly).

These people need to know the ins and outs of the company, understand which strategies to use when a crisis hits and have the right skills to communicate with customers.

Create a crisis centre

Create a crisis centre to direct customers and stakeholders to one source that has relevant, useful links with up-to-date information.

A crisis centre helps a business provide more context about any situation to the people involved. It will also lighten the load on your social media channels.

Monitor the crisis

To effectively handle a social media crisis, whether it is caused by external or internal factors, you need to monitor how it develops. Plus, you need to do this in such a way that the volume of social media messages does not overwhelm you.

Use a social media monitoring tool of simply keep Twitter tabs open that have your notifications as well as search on the relevant hashtag. Also, label the conversations that are coming in via email to keep track of all social media messages that still need a reply.

Post relevant updates via your social channels and respond directly to customers. When you communicate information about a crisis to your audience, craft a rapid public response. You want to update anyone and everyone, so no one is left in the dark.

A social media crisis never seems to reach an end. Continue monitoring the events and relevant notifications after a crisis.

Owning up to your mistakes

First and foremost, when a social media crisis is caused internally, take full responsibility for the issue, even if you are not the one to blame.

Put together a well thought-out public statement, and share it first on the original platform where the problem started. For example, if a crisis was first initiated on Twitter, launch a statement there first.

The speed of a reply is everything. When faced with a social media crisis, make sure you send out your first statement or brand apology into the world within minutes. To make the statement more effective, have a reputable source within your company, such as the head of social media, brand manager, etc to speak on behalf of your brand.

When issuing a statement, show compassion and your full commitment to the issue. Assure customers that they are your first priority. Do not be defensive, do not justify your actions and most importantly, do not hide from criticism.


With social media, crises can easily spread, damaging your brand’s reputation within minutes or even seconds. If you want to regain the trust of your customers, you will need to step up your game. Communicate proactively, take matters into your own hands and never be unprepared for a social media crisis.


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