You hear that there's risk involved with social media marketing, but how can you be sure that this risk directly applies to you and your organization? Perhaps you're wondering just how much risk there could be and how important it is for you to invest in a social media crisis management plan
. Or perhaps you think, as many do, that if a social media crisis were to present itself, you have PR and customer service experience (not to mention common sense) and that you'll be able to wing it and sail through it smoothly.
The challenge is that social media crises are different from traditional crises. Things like real-time, two-way communication and viral activity all play a dominant role in a social media crisis and can be extremely stressful and overwhelming when you aren't prepared.
My famous questionnaire
The following is a questionnaire that I give to people who are unsure whether investing in a social media crisis plan is worth their time, energy, and money.
If you're unsure, go through the following questions, and if you answer "no" to three or more, then your organization is vulnerable to a social media crisis, and you would benefit from investing in a strategic and targeted social media crisis management plan.
Note: The terms brand, company, and organization are used interchangeably within this questionnaire.
- Are you monitoring online discussions about your brand?
- Have you identified the red flags that mean your company is under social media attack?
- Have you assessed all potential risk involved with your social media marketing efforts?
- Do you understand what a social media crisis is and means to your company or organization?
- If a social media crisis struck your organization tomorrow, would you know how to respond?
- Is your staff and management currently equipped with a social media and crisis mindset?
- Have you built a loyal online network of brand advocates and supporters?
- In the heat of the moment, would you be able to leverage the help of your loyal brand advocates?
- Do you understand what your fans, customers and market expect of you in a social media crisis—and are you prepared to meet those expectations?
- Do you know the secrets to turning a social media crisis into a positive PR campaign for your organization?
- Do your employees know their role in a social media crisis?
- Do you have the capability and tools to communicate with your entire staff in real time?
- Do you have a social media crisis spokesperson trained and ready at all times?
- Do you know how to begin regaining control of a social media crisis?
- Do you have the ability and the tools to respond to a social media crisis in real time?
- Are you aware of the basic rules to reacting and responding to a social media crisis?
- Do you have a thorough, dynamic, and strategic social media crisis plan developed that your entire staff practices regularly?
So, how did you do? Did you answer "no" to three or more questions? If so, it may be time to invest in a crisis management plan that will help prepare your company for online attacks.
What are your options?
Really, you have two:
1. Learn all you can about social media crises and developing a social media crisis management plan, and put that plan into motion. If you're a hands-on individual, I have three resources that will help you accomplish this efficiently and effectively:
- This category on my blog is a great place to start.
- This is a Starter's Toolkit that I've prepared, complete with a beginner's workshop.
- The Social Media Crisis Academy is an online training course that I've developed to take you from A to Z in developing your social media crisis plan.
2. Hire a social media crisis manager—someone who will help you conduct a thorough risk assessment and develop a targeted social media crisis management plan for your brand.
No matter which choice better suits your brand and needs, remember that a social media crisis can strike at any moment and the last thing you want is to be caught unprepared and unprotected.
Melissa Agnes is a social media crisis manager, speaker and consultant. She blogs at MelissaAgnes.com, where a version of this article originally appeared.