Being a fabulous reader of my blog you understand the importance of being prepared with the right social media crisis plan. You know that the right crisis plan can save your brand from irreparable damage, as well as grant you the unique experience to turning an attack into a positive PR opportunity.

But before you can implement your social media crisis plan when necessary, you need to be able to identify a crisis for what it is. This can be tricky when you’re overwhelmed and stressed, but it’s important to realize that not all negativity circulating your brand means that you’re under social media attack.

So what makes a crisis a crisis, and how can you be absolutely sure when it’s time to put your social media crisis plan into action? When in doubt, here are 8 clear-cut signs your brand is under social media attack:

1- Negative comments are flooding in so fast that you’re unable to grasp the situation
If there’s a downpour of negative comments and complaints coming in, so much so that you don’t have a minute to catch your breath or grasp the situation, then it’s time to put that social media crisis plan into action and start making sense of the situation.

2- The public has more information than you do
If there’s buzz around your brand and everyone else seems to know more about what’s going on than you do, consider this to be a fair warning sign that something less than desirable is going down and you need to get to the bottom of it. Sometimes it’s a positive surprise, but more often than not you’ll find that a mistake has been made or an unexpected event has occurred and you’ll want to lead with your first response strategy and get to the bottom of the situation before it spirals out of control.

3- You’ve lost control of your own wall or blog
It happens. Fans have a big voice and when something goes wrong all of them shouting and voicing their complaints together can literally take control of your wall or blog. It’s a scary and overwhelming time but the only thing you can do is put that crisis plan into action and begin the first steps to regaining control of the situation.

4- You’re unexpectedly trending on Twitter, but not in a good way
If your name is being shared, tweeted, retweeted and then tweeted some more, and all mentions are not something to be proud of, then it’s a good assumption to consider yourself under social media attack. To resolve the situation, you’ll need to take immediate action by putting your social media crisis plan into play.

5- Something new with higher than normal negative interest and discussion rates
If you’re set up with your social media listening posts, then you probably have a good baseline determined for your share of voice (how many people actively talk about you compared to your competitors) and your share of sentiment (how many of those conversations are negative vs. positive). So if you detect a substantial spike in both your share of voice and your share of negative sentiment, one thing’s clear: you’re under attack and it’s time to put that crisis plan into action.

6- Negativity + Viral activity
This is a clear-cut recipe for disaster. No matter what it is – a video, comment, blog post, tweet – if some form of negative content was created about your brand and it’s on its way to going, or has already gone viral, then anchor up your crisis team because you’re in the midst of a social media crisis.

7- Someone has hacked your account
If you have the unfortunate experience of having an intruder hack any one of your social platforms (blog, Twitter account, Facebook Fan Page, Google+ account, etc), and if the hacker begins to use that account as if it’s their own, probably attempting to spread rumors or stir up havoc for your brand, well, there’s no sooner time then immediately to respond to this type of crisis.

8- You foresee a highly undesirable outcome
No matter what it is, if something is going down and you foresee a less than desirable outcome for your brand – whether it be a hit on your reputation or credibility, a loss of fans or customers, or a direct hit on your business’s bottom line – mark my words: you are in a social media crisis and it needs to be dealt with immediately.

Keep it on hand
It’s important to understand the severity of the situation when you find yourself in some kind of social media heat. Crises stir up quickly and then continue to build momentum until resolution is attained.

That said, feel free to bookmark or print this list for your social media crisis files so that when you find yourself faced with an attack, you’ll have the tools you need to identify the crisis in order to take proper action. The longer you underestimate the situation, the harder it will be to regain control and suffer minimum consequences to your business.

Did you find this list useful? What are the signs that you’ve come to determine if you’re under social media attack? Share your comments in the comments section below!


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