Complete Your Crisis Management Strategy with Social Media Monitoring

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Real-time social media monitoring and engagement

elisabethmichaudby Elisabeth Michaud, Guest Contributor

Elisabeth Michaud is the Social Media Marketing and Community Manager for uberVU and hopes to stay free from any future social media #fails as she steers the ship for uberVU’s social media strategy and execution. Find her on Twitter @emichaud or tweeting from the @uberVU account. Visit her on LinkedIn or stop the uberVU blog for additional social media tips and tricks.

In times of crisis (especially given the fast-paced, 24/7, always-connected world we live in these days), it’s crucial not only to take action by carrying out a plan and responding to inquiries, but also to constantly keep an eye on what’s happening – to monitor the situation. Whether the crisis is a natural disaster (an outside event beyond your control) or a social media #fail (something your brand and/or social media team is responsible for), social media monitoring and the ability to engage and respond to social media posts in real-time, is an important piece of any crisis management strategy.

Today, we’ll discuss how for each of these situations, you can use real-time social media monitoring and engagement to fulfill the three phases of crisis management (Predict, Plan and Perform).

During a natural disaster…

Predict: Start monitoring terms related to the type of disaster as far in advance as possible. As a hurricane is developing, for example, set up search streams for terms like “flooding”, “power outage”, and, if you’re a company that caters to your local area, search for your city, town or state, too.  Figure out what risks are possible for your business BEFORE the storm hits and use social media monitoring to track terms related to them.

Plan: Plan out how you will respond to social media activity once the disaster strikes. Will you be involved in local cleanup efforts? Will you offer discounted storm-recovery items? Also consider what types of messages you’ll send out during and after the storm. Be cautious with any promotional materials you had planned for the upcoming days or weeks – reassess to make sure you don’t cause a brand-related crisis with any offensive social media content.

Consider what and how you will monitor brand mentions during the event: look at what the buzz about the storm is and decide who on your social media team will be best to manage any necessary responses during the time of crisis. You may want to use different social media accounts within your organization to respond to different types of posts, or posts in different locations, so decide on a strategy for those responses in advance.

Perform: During the storm itself, create a search stream related to disaster effects as well as a stream dedicated to the disaster itself. Real-time responses are extremely important during these stressful times, so your social media team members (the ones you selected during the planning process above) should aim to respond to relevant posts as soon as possible after they occur. As the situation develops, continue to monitor trends around your search terms to see if a change in strategy is necessary. Use real-time data around your brand-related searches to see how you’re doing:

uberVU Sentiment Trend

After the storm, continue to monitor and engage with storm-related terms where appropriate – especially since the effects of a natural disaster may last much longer than the disaster itself.

During a social media #fail…

Predict: Predict a social media #fail by keeping a close eye both internally and externally on your brand. This means setting up search streams for your brand, products, services, and employee names. It makes sense to keep an especially close eye on what your social media team members are up to so you can notice any alarming trends in their social media behavior before something bad happens. You can’t always prevent them from making a mistake, but you can make it less likely that the mistakes happen when you’re not paying attention. By monitoring mentions of your brand, too, you can get a sense of the general feelings around it within social media.

Responding to mentions that come up in your social media search streams is a great way to lay out a positive representation of your brand – something that can help you recover more quickly when a social media fail occurs. Followers, fans and friends are likely to be more forgiving when they’ve had a previous positive interaction with your brand than if they’ve never heard from you until something goes wrong.

Plan: Again, knowing who and how responses will be conveyed when a social media fail happens is half the battle. Plan a social media “chain of command” so when someone makes a mistake, the proper people are notified and the person best equipped to handle the situation can do so – using the most appropriate social profile and platform, of course. Decide whether it makes sense for crisis responses to come from the official Page/official Twitter account of your brand, or if an individual social profile would be more appropriate (this may differ depending on which type of social media fail happens, of course).

uberVU Social Accounts

Sign up to receive email alerts for signals (like uberVU’s Spikes and Bursts of activity) in your brand stream so you and your team can be informed instantly if something deviates from the normal pattern of activity – even if you’re away from your desk and monitoring real-time alerts with your smartphone.

uberVu Signals

Perform: When you find out a social media fail has occurred, respond clearly and succinctly (all the better for sharing) according to your previously prepared plans. It may be appropriate to respond directly to individuals on Twitter, for example, and also make a broad statement. Use social media platforms as an opportunity to share your own perspective on the matter, and if you or someone on your team messed up, own up to it! Take responsibility for the mistake and publicly communicate the steps you’ll take to resolve the issue. Look for related terms in a Conversation Map to be sure you’re addressing the problem within every category of concerns, associated hashtags, etc.

uberVU Conversation Map

The conversation about your social media fail may have spread from one network (i.e. Twitter) to others (the blogosphere, your brand’s Facebook page, etc.), so it likely makes sense to respond to the concerns on each of the affected networks. However, be sure the messaging across those platforms is consistent despite the medium and perhaps style being different. Continue to monitor the mentions around your brand name as the situation is resolved – check the sentiment to see if your responses are taking effect or if more damage control is needed.

By monitoring social media mentions and responding, where necessary, in real-time, you and your brand can do more good than harm and build a great social media reputation that translates to real-world benefits and brand loyalty. Combining a powerful process like Firestorm’s with a powerful social media monitoring tool like uberVU can help you kick a social media crisis to the curb!

Interested in learning more? Download Firestorm’s most recent paper – 13 Social Media Basics for 2013

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