We were fortunate enough to have the fabulously talented Nicole Matejic speak at our
Managing Social Media Risks Breakfast Briefing on Thursday 6
August. The following blog contains some more words of wisdom from
Nicole around social media crisis communication for you and your
Do you think before you tweet?
Ponder before you post?
Hypothesise before you hyperlink?
As we all sit comfortably in our armchair commentators boxes,
watching the latest #PRFail like it's a global spectator sport,
we become experts don't we?
We laugh, we judge, and we provide subjective commentary on how,
why, and when it all started to go wrong.
But what if the subject of the latest #PRFail was you? Or your
Hindsight with 20/20 vision is exceedingly accurate; yet the
philosophical concept of cause and effect in a social media context
that is right before our eyes is hard for people to grasp.
From the outrageous to the obvious, the misinformed and outright
malicious – the truth is, crisis communications in the social
and online media environment is rarely discussed UNTIL an
organisation finds itself in a crisis. And even then, the
inclination to direct blame outwardly is exceedingly common.
Why is it that the last place people look to for answers when a
social media crisis unfolds is within?
What causes a social media crisis?
Yes, that's right – inevitably YOU (or your
organisation) are the navigators in your own social media crisis
misadventure. Here's how:
Communications is an organisational after thought
Organisational leaders don't appreciate or haven't
invested in communication risk management
The person/s behind your social media channels is under
resourced or social media is an adjunct to their 'real
The person/s behind your social media channels are under
trained for the complexities of community management.
Why you need to plan for a social media
It's easy to take the view: "Not my circus, not my
monkey" (~ Polish proverb) when it comes to social media risk
mitigation, but while the monkey might be off your back after a
crisis has passed, the online circus never actually leaves town.
Instead it lives on in perpetuity inside Google's cache.
You must plan for a social media crisis because:
Your organisation may not survive the consumer backlash as
sales plummet, orders are cancelled, or shareholders sell their
Social media mayhem will act as a catalyst for highlighting
other workplace deficiencies. A lack of leadership, poor
organisational planning, or an absence of media acuity will have
knock on effects, impacting other parts of your workforce
Organisational morale will dive at the time you need your
people focused the most
A #PRFail will dominate your SEO – a costly endeavour to
How to prevent a social media crisis
Preparedness for social media crisis starts at the top. One of
the biggest preludes to crisis communications failure is a leader
who has a general apathy toward social media and communications in
general. If they don't think it's important – why
will anyone else in the organisation?
Preventing a social media crisis is about planning for risk
while ensuring functional organisational alignment:
Be present, active, and engaging on your social media
Have a social media strategy in place that clearly defines your
goals and objectives
A social media crisis communications plan must form part of
your overall social media strategy. It must also align with broader
corporate communications activities in a holistic
whole-of-organisation approach to managing crisis in general
– social media crisis won't be contained to just your
Resource and train those responsible for social media in your
organisation appropriately: including in customer experience if you
use social media as a customer service portal
Identify and contract in the expertise you don't possess
internally but need early. It is much cheaper to hire a crisis
communications consultant to assist you in risk identification and
strategy development than it is to hire them to manage your
Organisationally practice your social media crisis
communications plan in a simulated learning environment. Apply the
lessons learned during this process into your social media crisis
With on average one diabolical, globally viral social media
crisis (#PRFail) occurring each month and numerous less apocalyptic
examples appearing daily: don't wait for your own crisis to
learn how to navigate your way out of social media disaster –
learn from the cache of organisational and individual misadventures
at your disposal.
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