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Crises can come in many shapes and sizes, and there’s been a fair few globally over the past couple of years… yes Covid-19, we’re looking at you! But not all crises have to be at global-pandemic level before they start to affect us as businesses. 

Whatever products or services you provide, and no matter what sector or industry you’re in, it’s safe to say that you’re never completely safe from disaster. It only takes one bad review, one faulty product, or even one rumour to rock the boat – and for all its fantastic advantages, it’s safe to say that social media can be a bit of a minefield when it comes to creating a storm.

However, as with all things disastrous, modern channels have their distinct advantages and opportunities when it comes to social media crisis management.

Let us explain…

Social media crisis management is a modern way of neutralising negative sentiment and problems relating to your brand through excellent customer service and expert marketing. With digital tools and channels, you now have the ability to monitor, acknowledge and respond to problems across your business around the clock, no matter where you are.

Sounds perfect, right? Well…maybe not. If you flip the coin to a customer or community perspective, you’ll find that using digital channels, they are also blessed with the same great opportunity for communicating 24/7. Even when your product or service is quite up to par, it’s easy for that chatter to turn in the opposite direction, and create a stormcloud around your brand reputation.

At some point, a crisis is bound to hit, but if you prepare correctly, you should be able to ride that storm, or even extinguish it before it lands on your doorstep.

Take a look below at our three need-to-knows when it comes to managing a social crisis…

#1 Listening for the inevitable 👂

Crises are unpredictable… or are they? In the world of social media, a crisis always starts with a conversation, a message or a post. Whether it’s an existing customer pointing out a fault with your products or service, or a member of your community that has had a bad experience with your brand.

Messages like these aren’t necessarily arriving straight in your inbox either. The nature of social media has encouraged free speech across generations – meaning that people can actually reach an audience and start the crisis ball rolling without directly mentioning you, or making you aware that they have a problem.

With an estimated 67% of consumers using social media networks like Twitter and Facebook to seek resolution for issues (Social Media Today), that’s a vast audience you to consider – and a huge risk for potential crises!

But what if there was a way to listen to chatter across your social channels and beyond, that would help you stay ahead of the game and stop small issues from snowballing into something much larger? Enter: Social listening.

Social listening is quickly becoming a must-have for businesses across the globe, in fact, 61% of businesses now have a social listening system in place (Social Media Today). To put it simply, social listening is a method of analysing the mentions of your brand across social channels, and collecting the data to see what people are saying about your brand. Having this basic knowledge can help identify trends, sentiment and patterns within the conversations around your brand, alerting you to any negativity at the earliest point.

While traditional social listening tools will cover your typical channels (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter etc), we’ve taken it one step further with Orlo Insights. Using AI-driven Listening, Insights allows you to listen beyond traditional social channels, capturing data points across news sites, blogs, forums and more.

Listening in is critical to spotting trends and highlighting opportunities for you to take the conversations to the customer, and solve problems at the source… which leads us nicely into our next need-to-know…

#2 Understanding pain points 🤔

Listening to an audience isn’t enough, with potentially thousands of messages identified per day, it’s important that you work to spot the trends and understand the pain points of your customers to effectively prevent or manage crises.

Depending on how wide your target audience, customer base, or community is, you could be dealing with a whole host of different challenges, wants and needs. With this being said, it’s critical that you segment these messages effectively, and start to build regular reports that identify trends and patterns in behaviours.

Not only does social listening with a tool such as Orlo Insights widen your reach for potential crisis-spotting, it’s also makes it possible to pinpoint emotion, as well as the sentiment behind direct and indirect messages about your brand. Using a reporting suite will then help you present this information accurately to stakeholders, so you can start to develop a strategy to tackle any crises.

Orlo’s report building tools allow you to use both pre-built and custom tools that include trend mapping and theme clusters, helping to speed up the process when it comes to getting to the source of negative sentiment or emotion, as well as a one-click SWOT analysis that will push your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to the forefront.

Watch as Orlo and Reading Borough Council bring you a real-world case study of how the team at Reading have managed their social media presence in the face of adversity.

#3 Acting on your findings! 🎭

It’s one thing to identify what your customers or community are talking about and to understand the reasons behind their pains, but what are you going to do about it? Making sure that you’re appropriately reacting on the right channels.

Scour the internet and it will give you all sorts of hard and fast tips to follow when you’re addressing customer problems, ranging from acknowledging mistakes to admitting responsibility. But, are these methods and reactions that really fit with your business ethos?

That’s why we suggest creating a stakeholder-approved Crisis Management Plan, so you know exactly what counts as a crisis, and exactly how you should be structuring your response in line with your business outlook. Don’t know where to get started? Take a look at the following tips to get you off the line.

  • Define what counts as a ‘crisis’
    Take a look at the history of your business and define what you would class as a crisis. If you’re fresh out of the gates, consider looking at competitors and try to flag what could go wrong, and the factors that have influenced them in the past.
  • Reinforce your values
    Create a document with your company values and the positive key messages that define your business and set you apart from the crowd.
  • Create guidelines
    With your values in mind, set clear rules on your ideal method of reacting to any crises or negative interactions and guidance on the type of messaging or response you will share. Identify and document your core crisis management team to ensure you know which stakeholders are key for approval and awareness if the situation should call for reaction.

Wrap it up 🌯

Listening to your customers and communities, understanding their pain points, and developing an effective action plan to solve future problems are the keys to getting a handle on social crisis management, but this doesn’t mean you’ll never fall foul to a crisis again.

However – by integrating the right tools into your tech stack, you’ll be on the road to getting ahead of the game, and keeping a finger on the pulse when it comes to your brand. Check out Orlo’s Social CX Suite and discover what our Insights feature can do to help you listen, understand and act your way to crisis management success.

The Orlo team are all here to support you, with great tips, tricks and updates. Orlonians are a bunch of genuine people who work hard every day to support our customers in delivering the best possible customer experience through digital channels.