How To Regain Control in a Social Media Crisis

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The following post is reprinted by permission: from Firestorm Expert Council Member Melissa Agnes of  Melissa will Co-host a Firestorm Session with Grant Rampy on September 12 on Transparency: Can There Be Too Much?.

Melissa Agnes is a Firestorm Expert Council Member, and social media crisis manager and consultant. She keeps a daily blog on the subject over at, is co-host of The Crisis Show and the creator of The Social Media Crisis Academy, an online training course aimed at helping small to medium sized businesses and PR professionals develop strategic social media crisis communications plans. You can connect with Melissa on Twitter and Linkedin.


How To Regain Control in a Social Media Crisis

One of the biggest stresses of a social media crisis is the loss of control that comes with one. Organizations see their social media platforms being taken over with negative and critical comments and they don’t know what to do or how to respond in order to regain control of the situation. This is when mistakes happen such as deleting the negative comments or choosing to simply ignore the situation in hopes that it will go away.

Although these are natural and understandable reactions, they won’t get you any closer to regaining that lost control. That’s why it’s important to understand which aspects of your organization and the crisis you always have control over, and to focus your efforts on those areas within a crisis.

Focus on the areas for which you always have complete control

Your content
You have 100% control over the content that you publish on your channels. This is the content that you want your customers and fans to turn to for the facts and events that unfold throughout the crisis. For this reason it’s crucially important that you utilize your content driven channels to the maximum of their capabilities. In order to do this, you should:

  • Be open and honest about the crisis and events that are unfolding
  • Reveal all facts and answer all possible questions that the public may be wondering, or may wonder in the future
  • Optimize your content to rank high within the search engines
  • Be open, honest, sympathetic and human

Your messaging
If you stick to, and hold strong to both your brand values and your day-to-day messaging, you will succeed in 1) showing the public that you mean what you say, and 2) continuing to connect and build a relationship with your audience.

Brands who panic in a crisis and go against their traditional messaging disappoint their market and find it hard to recover from such a mistake. Your brand message is your promise to your customers and many relationships are built on such promises. Go back on them and you’ll continue to spiral out of control throughout the crisis. Stay true to them and you’ll continue to build that relationship with your market and begin to regain control of the situation.

Your response to the crisis
The way you choose to respond to the crisis has a major and direct impact on how quickly you begin to regain control of it. Ignore it and it will build a momentum and spiral out of control. Respond immediately with your initial response and then later with your official response and you will instantly begin the first steps in regaining control and overcoming the crisis with minimum repercussions to your brand.

Your actions
Your actions speak loud and clear, and your audience is waiting to see what those actions will be. Will you respond immediately to the crisis? Will you apologize for the events that occurred? Will that apology be sincere and sympathetic? Will you fix the situation and take the necessary measures to make sure that such an event doesn’t happen again?

Your actions are clearly within your power and are what will make or break your organization throughout a social media crisis. Act fast, act honest and act responsibly – and by the way, all of the answers to the above questions should most definitely be yes!

What to take away

The struggle within a social media crisis is to regain control of the situation and to suffer the least amount of damages to your brand, your brand’s reputation and your brand’s bottom line. A social media crisis is a stressful situation for anybody and everybody involved, but by focusing on the areas in which you always have control, as well as focusing on continuously building and strengthening the relationship you share with your market, you will regain control of the entire situation and your brand – and you will do so with positive results.

Have you ever experienced a social media crisis, and if so how did you focus on regaining control of the situation? Share your experiences with Melissa in the Comments section.


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