This article originally appeared on 60 Second Social.

We all know that sometimes it is best to think before we post on social media. However sometimes we do things with the best intentions and they backfire on us. When things go wrong on social media, especially for companies and brands, then they really can go wrong.

In fact, rage tends to go viral, rage spills over onto social networks and by the time you reach the office or get to your computer to deal with the rapidly evolving crisis then it can appear to be too late. Social media can be useful to grow a brand or it can put a nail into your companies coffin.

For example, recently the hashtag #WhyIStayed began to trend on social media when survivors of abuse decided to share personal stories following the debacle surrounding NLF’s Ray Rice behaviour when he was accused of assaulting his wife. DiGiorno pizza picked up on the hashtag and tried to use it for marketing purposes and as you may be able to guess it did not end well.

This, is exactly the reason why we need to research hashtags before we tweet people. So what do you do to manage a crisis when it is all to late to be averted? Here are some tips on how you may be able to manage a social media crisis if it ever happens to your business or brand.

1. Keep cool!

Don’t panic, do not get into a public argument with users by posting something negative or arguing with them in response to their comments. This is a sure fire way to make matters worse, when followers or users of the service are sending comments your way of this nature they want you to get into a fight with them. It helps them try and drag your brand image down further, do not get caught up in it. Take a step back, understand where they are coming from, listen to them and empathise with what they are experiencing.

2. Acknowledge the crisis

Don’t bury your head in the sand and try to ignore a crisis as it is starting to emerge, speed is critical in the modern day era especially on social media. Your initial response must be a form of acknowledgement to let the public know you are actively dealing with the issue. Ignoring things just makes it worse, tackle the problem head on.

3. Have a plan

Every company with a social media account of some sort must have a plan, you can’t just work through a crisis trying to make it up as you go. You could end up digging yourself in even further, should a PR crisis arise you need to have a plan of what steps need to be taken and have easy access to your terms of service so that they can be reference when replying to customers.

4. Let people vent

Allow people to vent, do not allow them to be personally abusive. Moderate people and their comments with respect and common sense, do not start to ban and block people because they are venting. When you are responding to a crisis you should do so on a page you administer. This allows you to control the conversation effectively.

5. Understand the crisis

Make sure you actually know and understand what the problem is, know how the problem started and why people are upset. Monitor conversations regarding the topic of the crisis on social media platforms and listen to what people are saying before you address them. If you wade in without knowing what the problem actually is you could end up making things much worse for your company and its reputation.

Social media crisis can be managed, however poor management could soon end up in your companies days on social media coming to an end, following some simple steps can help you rebuild people’s opinions when initially you may have thought there was little or no hope. Di Giorno was one of the top Twitter brands in America, however understandably this will do some damage to their online reputation which goes to show how easy it is to really screw up big time.

About The Author

Mark is the founder of 60 Second Social media where he provides social media news and digital marketing analysis, he is also a proud father of his bearded dragon, Lola. You can follow him on Twitter here. You can also follow 60 Second Social on Twitter here.

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