Seven Must-Have Elements of Your Social Media Emergency Kit

This guest post is by Andrea Ford, friend and colleague extraordinaire. Andrea is the Content Lead at Create Digital, an agency in Richmond, Virginia that works with Fortune 500 brands to help make their social media smarter. Create Digital specializes in three services: Community Management to help attract, rally, and engage people around your brand; Social Intelligence, which gives you the data and analytics you need to make smart strategic decisions; and Digital Campaigns such as web development, custom Facebook applications, and social advertising.

Seven Must-Have Elements of Your Social Media Emergency Kit

It can strike any time with any brand. Chick-Fil-A, Nestlé, and Domino’s are just a few of the brands who have experienced a social media crisis; characterized by an onslaught of conversation that has a big (often negative) impact on your brand.

If a social media crisis hit your brand, right now, would you be prepared?

Just like how an emergency kit can keep you and your family safe during a natural disaster, preparing a Social Media Emergency Kit for your brand before trouble starts is key to surviving a social media crisis.

How important is this? Consider that the occurrence of social media crises is on the rise. Additionally, according to research from the Altimeter Group, “more than three-fourths (76%) [of social media crises] could have been diminished or averted had companies invested internally.”

Let’s take a look at seven elements your kit must have if your brand is to successfully navigate a social media crisis.

Established Monitoring
Managing a social media crisis begins with listening and monitoring. During a crisis, the volume of chatter increases exponentially and very quickly. The quicker you can spot this trend, the more effective you’ll be in managing the crisis.

Crisis Clauses in Contracts
In the event of a crisis, you’ll need to pull an around-the-clock team together quickly. Identifying these roles early and having a clause in employee agreements or contracts gives you the governance you need to act fast.

Guidelines Regarding Personal Account
The Red Cross averted a crisis when an offensive personal tweet accidentally slipped through into the official corporate feed. One way brands can mitigate this risk is by creating a policy stipulating that personal accounts must be kept separate from any application (including web browsers) where a corporate account is linked.

Current Contact Information
If a crisis does strike, it’s not the time to scramble for contact information. Keep an updated list of emails, phone numbers (including mobile), and Twitter handles ready at all times. Run phone tree drills that map to an escalation plan to verify that all information is up-to-date.

Plan of Action
When you’re dealing with tens of thousands of angry comments, you’ll need to make sure everyone knows their roles and responsibilities. Having a crisis response plan helps you triage response needs and keep nerves from getting too frayed. Bonus points if you run through fire drills on a regular basis.

Consistent Messaging
Throughout a crisis, you’ll need to get updated information out quickly. Many brands use “dark websites”, a pre-built website that is turned on during a crisis. Dark websites provide a central place for official updates such as press releases, FAQs, and apology videos.

Ongoing Training & Practice
It’s not enough to simply document your process, you need to practice in order to be prepared for the main event. Hold training sessions, run drills, and give yourself the best chance to minimize damage to your brand should a social media crisis strike.

So how did you do? Is your emergency kit fully stocked and ready to go? If so, good for you! If not, contact Create Digital to discuss how crisis management fits in your brand’s social media strategy.

Thanks for the guest post, Andrea and Create Digital!

If you’d like to reach Andrea Ford directly, contact her at aford@createdigital.com or follow @CreateDigital.

If you’d like to write a guest post for the Writing Matters blog, contact me at Leslie@ewriteonline.com.

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