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Social Media Crisis Plans For Global Organizations

Social Media Crisis Plans For Global Organizations image world map 300x159As we saw yesterday, social media crises can get even more complex when you’re talking about global organizations. With many brands or branches around the globe comes a long list of questions, such as:

  • Should we develop a social media crisis plan per brand, or one global document for all brands?
  • How should we manage cross-brand internal communications in a crisis?
  • How important is it to keep all brands in the loop when only one brand is under online attack?
  • Each brand is at a different level of social media “connaissance”, how do we create a crisis plan that’s suitable for everyone?
  • Who should be a part of our global and regional crisis teams?
  • How many social media crisis teams do we actually need?

Wow! That’s a lot of questions that don’t come with easy answers without proper training and understanding of:

  • The way social media crises evolve
  • What a social media crisis is and means to your organization
  • Where to begin!

So let’s see what I can do to help you get on the right track…

Should we develop a social media crisis plan per brand, or one global document for all brands?
Although this depends on your organization’s particular needs, for the most part, one thorough social media crisis plan created for all brands should do. However, in order to have the ability to create a complete and focused plan, you’ll first need to undergo a thorough vulnerability audit, risk assessment and other strategic meetings that will allow you to understand where each brand is in terms of social media and crisis communications knowledge, needs and skills.

How should we manage cross-brand internal communications in a crisis?
First thing’s first, your global organization should be set up with a custom cross-brand internal communications platform. Amongst many other features, this platform should allow for real-time messaging and notifications and should be accessible (at least in part) by each staff member of each one of your brands.

How important is it to keep all brands in the loop when only one brand is under online attack?
Very important! Although it may seem like an isolated incident, social media and the Internet immediately annihilate any such possibility. The following possible scenarios will help you see why it’s so important to have real-time and efficient cross-brand communications in a crisis:

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  • Other brands may be running online campaigns that, for some reason or other, risk making the brand or parent company look insensitive and/or unorganized. This can lead to a series of other negative comments and online attacks.
  • Each one of your employees has their own social graph. This is a big potential for a family member or friend to hear about the crisis another brand is facing, know that there’s a connection between that brand and the brand their family member or friend works for, and decide to contact that person for more information. If your employee is unaware of the situation than they either a) look incompetent and/or unorganized, or b) may take it upon themselves to begin to answer questions without authorization, which leads the way to speculation, rumors… and potentially another crisis.

Each brand is at a different level of social media “connaissance”, how do we create a crisis plan that’s suitable for everyone?
This is often the case for global organizations with multiple brands. Some brands are social media champions and others are still striving to understand why they need to have a Facebook, what’s it called? Fan Page? It doesn’t matter. Your social media crisis plan should be written for the lowest common denominator and should include a thorough training for each and every brand individually.

Who should be a part of our global and regional crisis teams?
Typically, a global organization should have two social media crisis and issues teams: a global social media crisis team and a regional social media issues team. Who you recruit to be a part of each team is up to you, but the following are some ideas to consider:

  • Social media monitors
  • Senior executives
  • Trained spokespeople
  • PR team members
  • Marketing team members
  • Customer service team members
  • Internal communications team members
  • Backups for all of the above

It may feel a little more overwhelming as a global organization, but don’t let that stop you! Social media crises are a real threat, and with all the brands and branches you have around the globe, that threat is amplified on a daily basis. Don’t waste any more time, protect and prepare each one of your brands with a thorough and complete social media crisis plan developed uniquely for your brands and the online risk they face each and every day.

photo by: shaire productions

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