Social media crisis management: Have a policy in place

Online PR can play a big role with managing a crisis online and it aims to bring brands into the digital world by creating relationships with brand influencers. While it is very important to proactively communicate your message with your target audience via the social media channels you are using, it is just as important to do so in a way that adds trust and credibility to your overall digital footprint.

One irresponsible Tweet in 140 characters or less, YouTube video or blog post can spread like wildfire and can ruin your online reputation in minutes. How can you avoid a social media crisis before it gets out of hand? Here’s a couple of tips that can help you avoid a disaster.

Social media policy

Before your business starts engaging on the social web and before you start your social media marketing campaign, it is important to make sure that you have a social media policy in place. This policy should not only cover how your business uses social media, but it also states on how your employees use it as it relates to your brand. With your social media policy you should try to be as clear as possible, outlining what is the preferred method for using social media and what you cannot do.

Once your social media policy has been drafted, sit down with your employees or team and make sure they understand the policy. By saying this, it’s not just important to have a social media policy in place, monitor and listen to the conversations and how you plan to enforce the social media policy.


Whether you are active with your campaign on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest or Google+, always be consistent. Don’t start your campaign strong for the first few weeks and then have your social media profiles sit empty. Each day there are opportunities to connect with potential prospects or respond to complaints and problems. To start you campaign and then slack off sends a negative message about your brand to your audience.

It is every important to also have the same voice that you use across all the social media channels that you are active on. If you have a Twitter profile with daily digital marketing tips, make sure you have communicated this to your followers, and make sure you post/share relevant information to them.

Responding to criticism

When responding to negative criticism or complaints from people online, respond appropriately. If the person with the complaint comes across angry, don’t fight fire with fire. What often ignites a social media crisis is often when the brand responds back negatively, without considering that it is public.

With social media it is very important to respond appropriately to users that has a problem or a complaint. It is very easy to just ignore it, but the problem won’t go away. When you receive negative feedback that are new in nature, don’t be afraid to gather your team to discuss the best possible action before responding. Include a basic escalation process/procedure in your social media policy and make sure everyone in your team is aware of who is responsible for what when you receive a negative comment or mention online. Who’s going to respond and will the issue be addressed?

Social media isn’t new and it’s also not going away anytime soon. There are many brands that have been crushed online with social media disasters for the pure fact that they didn’t know how to respond and react to online criticism. It’s a reality and the world is turning more digital every second. Get your team onboard, let them know and understand the risks involved and start creating the first version of your social media policy that you can use as guidance for your social media efforts.

Anton Koekemoer


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