Whilst marketers are increasingly taking responsibility for social media as part of a multi-channel marketing (MCM) strategy, issues and crisis management is often left with the Comms or PR teams. Unless the Marketing team and the Comms team are completely integrated and fully aware of what each other are doing in the online space there is a very good chance that when a crisis occurs, confusion over channel ownership and responsibilities will almost certainly follow. Having to deal with internal politics is not something you want to have to deal with in the middle of a crisis. So how can you prevent such confusion and ensure that in a crisis you can respond effectively and protect the investment you have made in the reputation of your brand.
1. Develop a Crisis Plan. Don’t write a crisis plan in isolation from other departments – don’t forget Customer Services, Community Management, colleagues running B2B channels, HR, your legal team and the owners of other brands within the business (spill over or contamination danger). Establishing a Social Media Steering Committee is a great start.
2. Clear Communication. Establish what every stakeholder means by responsibility, ownership and authority when it comes to management of social media channels and ensure that the person or team who will respond to the crisis have Delegation of Authority and access to use all channels needed to address the crisis.
3. Social Media never sleeps. Monitor the environment 24/7 – you may have to decide if you have the resources in-house or whether you are going to outsource? Ensure alerts in place for silent hours – SMS and email
4. Social Media Monitoring tool. Establish clarity of the situation so when a crisis breaks and Twitter goes ballistic you can effectively manage this. Stakeholders expectations from brands and the response times demanding are increasing, Is a dashboard your best bet or a more visual based tool that collates all tweets in a single live pane like CrisisVu?
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5. Tracking and changing Keywords. Are all your teams monitoring for the same key words? Can you all get access?
6. Channel Ownership. If you don’t own some channels (perhaps managed by Marketing), can you reach the manager in a crisis or do you have the log in details, admin rights and DoA to use it in a crisis.
Whatever your Crisis plan is, try to be proactive as this is the only way to protect your brand.