You already know social media is central to your business’ marketing strategy. It can be used to connect with customers on a more personal level, amplify your brand messaging and educate and convert your followers. But are you leveraging social media as a transitional, post-crisis tool?
Whether your business is facing an external crisis like a pandemic or a natural disaster, or an internal crisis like a data breach or employee misconduct, your social media channels are an invaluable aspect of your response plan that should not be ignored or underutilized.
Monitor Your Company’s Online Reputation
While social media is commonly used to spread your message to others, it can be crucial for listening, too. Social monitoring tools and strategies allow you to see what others are saying, address their comments in real time and prevent a crisis from growing further. You may even discover new perspectives and opportunities.
Some popular social monitoring services include Hootsuite, Keyhole or Sprout Social. These tools allow businesses to monitor hashtags, mentions and even tone or share of voice in the marketplace. You can gather feedback and sentiment that’s critical for overcoming barriers and responding to customer needs in the right ways. Effective social monitoring can take the guesswork out of pinpointing your customers’ mindsets.
Leverage Your Social Media Channels for Crisis Response
Social media is essential to honing the public’s perception of your business – that’s why it’s such an important asset when managing a crisis. There are several ways your social media channels can play an integral role in your crisis communications strategy.
- Provide a New Route for Customer Service
It’s common for companies to be overwhelmed with customer inquiries during a crisis. Social media can be used to manage quick responses and reduce calls or emails that may get lost in the mix. Proactively posting responses to FAQs can also head off customer concerns that may tie up key employees.
- Discover Unhappy Customers Earlier
With social listening tools like the ones mentioned above, companies can discover and assist unhappy customers before a smaller issue grows into a bigger one. Managing any online negativity with professionalism and thought can lead to a quick resolution (and, potentially, transform a disgruntled commenter into a loyal fan). Depending on the situation, you can take the conversation private or keep it public for other followers to see your response. Your reply may answer questions they have, too.
- Share Messages Directly from Company Leadership
During times of stress, business leaders have an opportunity to reinforce authenticity and transparency while providing reassurance. They can personally communicate operational changes or facility closures through a variety of formats, such as a heartfelt video, blog post or live Q&A. This move instills trust with stakeholders and may put frazzled customers at ease.
- Control Your Side of the Story
Social media gives companies an opportunity to control their side of the story – before other users control it for them. Proactive communication can reduce tension and combat mistruths, helping customers understand your role and limitations given the current situation. If you aren’t proactive, the narrative will be guided by whomever is the loudest.
- Create Goodwill and Offer Value
Crises can be scary, overwhelming and unpredictable. Social media provides an avenue to support people who may greatly need it. For instance, your business may take to social channels to share free or discounted services, financial relief opportunities and other forms of professional guidance.
A Caveat: When to Scale Down Social Posting During a Crisis
As with anything, company outreach should be done with careful thought and strategy. In some situations, such as a serious health crisis or sudden economic downturn, the last thing you want to do is unintentionally offend or alienate your audience. To avoid this, conduct an audit of your currently scheduled content and remove anything that might be misconstrued or isn’t relevant to the current climate. People will be looking for need-to-know information during this time – other topics can come off as tone deaf or insensitive.
If your company is directly affected by a crisis, or you can offer genuine value to people coping with associated consequences, social media can be an excellent place to share information and listen for feedback.
A skilled social media team can help you leverage your social channels to their greatest potential during a crisis.