Making the most of a social media crisis: how to gain followers and influence people

We’ve all had that “oops” moment; whether it’s a spelling mistake, tweeting the wrong person or starting a social media crisis…

Oops! by ktpupp

So what do I mean by a social media crisis? That moment when you’re trending but it’s not the result of a clever PR campaign. When the whole world is looking at you because someone’s tweeted something controversial or inappropriate, made an unfortunately placed spelling mistake or your account’s been hijacked by disgruntled employees… (see Our Social Times’ 6 Examples of Social Media Crises).

For your company it may happen on a small scale with a handful of people picking up on the offending tweet, or it may be on a larger scale.

Don’t panic!

Like any crisis, there are steps to take which will help you manage the situation. Handle it well and you could potentially gain followers.

The rules for handling a social media crisis

  1. Act quickly – things move extremely quickly on social media; the quicker you act, the less fallout you’ll have to deal with.
  2. Delete the post – this won’t stop it being shared but it shows your intentions.
  3. Own up – put your hands up and state what you did wrong; nothing you do online can be hidden once it’s out there, you might as well accept it.
  4. Apologise – saying sorry can go a long way, you don’t want to lose followers over a mistake.
  5. Laugh it off (if possible) – if there’s the possibility of seeing the funny side, make a joke about it (show your less serious side).
  6. Reply to individuals – everyone will want to give their opinion, it’s only polite to acknowledge them.
  7. Turn off scheduled posts – nothing says inappropriate like a sale during a crisis.
  8. Be creative – the more creative and original you can be in apologising the better – stand out for standing out.

Remember, you’re human and human’s make mistakes!

I’m not going to sugar coat it; handling a social media crisis is hard work and time consuming. But handled well you could turn it into a positive PR story, gain followers and appreciation of your company. React slowly or badly and followers will lose faith in you.

To borrow a phrase: there’s no such thing as bad publicity (anyone remember Samantha Brick?).

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