You’ve got a perfectly planned out social media strategy, the beautifully curated grid and have even mapped out a clever caption to go with it. And then boom, life happens.
Maybe it’s something personal, like a scandal surrounding your business, or your website going down unexpectedly. Or, perhaps it’s an event on a larger scale, like a natural disaster or a political crisis.
Either way, it hits you like a ton of bricks and leaves you scrambling for what to do next. Suddenly, that cute photo you were going to post just feels tone-deaf, and the caption reads as more insensitive than cheeky.
If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that things don’t always work out like we expect (or want) them to. Even the best-laid social media plans can be completely derailed. And while crises can feel catastrophic at the time, your business and brand can actually come out stronger on the other side.
Provided you deal with it well, a social media crisis can be a great opportunity to showcase your human side, communicate your core values and show your customers just how much you care.
In this article, we’re sharing how to deal with a social media crisis, with sensitivity and grace. Whether you’re in the middle of SOS mode or just want to crisis-proof your business for the future, they’ll help you navigate sticky situations online.
How to manage a crisis on social media
Have a strategy planned
You can never be too prepared for a potential crisis. By creating a contingency plan before you actually need to, you can be intentional about how you deal with it should the situation arise — rather than just being reactive.
Consider creating a crisis handbook, which outlines things like the expected role of your staff in a hard situation, the tone of any statements you will release and any potential resources that you can call upon. That way, everyone in your organization will be on the same page.
You can even take it a step further by pre-creating a social media strategy for potential crises. You can use the strategy tool on Plann to create a custom crisis strategy, which might include a mix of content like a personal statement from the founder, safe content topics and sharing helpful resources. That way, anyone from your team can drag it onto your grid and stories, and will know exactly how to respond appropriately.
Have saved responses ready to go
The last thing you want is to be scrambling to respond to angry or upset comments when you’re already in crisis mode. It’s a good idea to have some canned responses or autoresponses ready to go, for in the face of adversity. So, for example, you might have one ready to go for if your website crashes, to respond to a customer complaint and so forth.
You can do this within Instagram with Quick Replies. Head to settings, then select business/creator then quick replies. Then, type in your desired response, and save it with a shortcut like ‘crisis’ Then, in your DMs, you will be able to type in ‘crisis’, tap the little blue speech button and the message will automatically populate with that response.
You can also use the ‘Notes’ section in the strategy tab of Plann to pre-save your responses for other platforms.
Autoposting can be an absolute gamechanger when it comes to day to day social media management. It allows you to essentially run your socials on autopilot, which is especially helpful when you’re managing multiple accounts.
PS. Autoposting for Instagram business accounts is now officially live on Plann, so you can set and forget your socials!
That said, auto-posting isn’t always your best friend in the middle of a crisis! If you’ve pre-planned social media content, it’s wise to go through and check what you’ve lined up before it automatically posts to your feed. If you do want to auto-post during more sensitive times, we recommend doing it at the same time every day (and at least an hour after you wake up) so you can quickly double-check it first.
Monitor your mentions
During a crisis, it’s important to keep an extra close eye on the comments people are leaving on your social media. After all, not responding at all is often the worst response you can make. But, it can be tough to keep track of this when people are mentioning you in comments, rather than tagging you in a post (because Instagram’s notifications only let you see back so far)
We recommend using Plann’s monitor mentions tool, to keep on top of the comments directing at you. That way, you can respond quickly and appropriately, and keep the consumer sentiment positive. You can find this tool inside the ‘Reply’ tab
Play it safe
When you’re in the vortex of a crisis is not the time to start experimenting with edgy or quirky content. It’s wise to play things safe until the storm has passed. Unless you feel particularly, genuinely passionate about the issue going on in the world right now, stick to neutral content or consider going quiet for a few days. It’s also a good idea to avoid overly optimistic or flippant content.
Don’t forget your hashtags and images, too! If you’re looking for something safe that doesn’t rock the boat, consider searching our extensive library of free stock images. You can even pre-create a collection of ‘safe’ images to use during these times.
In terms of hashtags, you’ll want to make sure you’re not using any that are overly inspiring or playful — as your followers may be paying attention to these, too! Consider creating a ‘crisis’ hashtags set in Plann that you can easily copy and paste into your captions when you’re in SOS mode.
Be humble and human
Your social media followers likely aren’t expecting perfection from you during this tough time. Chances are, they just want you to be real and transparent, and to treat them like the intelligent person they are! So, this is really the time to let your humanity shine through.
Don’t be afraid to admit when you’re wrong, and when you don’t know something. After, nobody really has all the answers, and we’re all just figuring it out as you go along. Your true fans will likely respect you so much more for it, while the wrong people might be repelled (which is actually a good thing!)
You can use Plann’s suite of social media scheduling tools to not only promote good news, but to prepare for the hard times, too. Log into Plann or start your free trial to give yourself some peace of mind today.