Integrating Social Media into the Crisis Communications Plan

Bad things happen to people and organizations. How you respond during a crisis can save and even enhance your reputation. You’ll find that your response often has more impact on your reputation than the event that precipitated the crisis.
Where does social media fit into a crisis communications plan? Everywhere. It needs to be woven throughout. Social media isn’t a separate entity. It is one channel connected with others. According to the Pew Internet and American Life Project, 65% of all adults who spend time online use social media networking sites.1 And more than 50% of active users on Facebook or Twitter follow a brand, according to a Nielsen report on social media.2

    The Nielsen study also found that 20% of customers use social media to complain about products or services. Social media is making customer interaction more personal and involved. Customers demand to know how and why things are happening. Unfortunately, most businesses aren’t as prepared to interact with their customers as the customers are with them—let alone deal with a social media crisis.
    The Organizational Shift
    Let’s talk about organizational culture and revisit the concept put forth by Grant and Notter3 of humanizing your organization. The “humanize” strategy offers skills to organizations and empowers their employees. Effective management of a social media crisis requires a humanized organization. Trust and transparency are key in any crisis but especially in a social media crisis, where the expectations are increased for interaction and information and where the speed of the crisis can be great. A humanized organization has trust and transparency built in. An organization must take ownership of social media and allow employees to be part of the conversation so that they can be brand champions. An organization needs to have authenticity within its community. That comes with building relationships with the community on social media. It all fits together.
  3. Personal interview with Maddie Grant, September 7, 2012.
    An organizational needs to make the shift from “machine” to “human” in order to navigate a crisis successfully in this social world. For many organizations, regardless of their size, it comes down to culture. Everyone in an organization must be educated on social media. It is important to have your frontline staff understand social media and its impact on the organization as whole.
    How does this organizational culture shift happen? Grant and Notter say that being open, trustworthy, generative, and courageous are critical to our growth as human beings (see Figure 7.1).4
  4. Jamie Notter and Maddie Grant, Humanize: How People-Centric Organizations Succeed in a Social World, Indianapolis: Que Publishing, 2012.

(Source: Humanize.)
Figure 7.1. A framework for humanizing organizations.
Grant and Notter suggest that the framework for humanizing organizations should be organized around four basic elements:

  • Open—Business structures have traditionally been closed, with linear processes and strictly defined responsibility, without any flexibility or employee ownership. A humanized organization understands how to develop true ownership behavior in all its employees by empowering them to take the right action at the right time to solve problems.
  • Trustworthy—Grant and Notter say that in traditional organizations, information is rarely shared freely; rather, management controls information, with the intention of delivering the “right” messages. A humanized organization embraces transparency in its culture, allowing for key information to flow freely throughout the company.
  • Generative—A humanized organization encourages the ability to create and develop new ideas. Organizations need to build processes that maximize collaboration and make sure their people have core skills in building relationships.
  • Courageous—This word is not often seen in business, but it is very important. You often have to be courageous to continue to learn, make changes, and innovate. Grant and Notter say that human organizations have cultures that value learning, and they figure out how to embed experimentation into all their processes. This way, healthy risk taking becomes the rule rather than the exception.
    Human organizations are social organizations, and they can move skillfully through the social media landscape, which enables them to handle crises. Being a human organization may be difficult for most organizations, but it is attainable.
    This section provides only a brief introduction to the humanizing concept. I suggest you read Grant and Notter’s Humanize and visit for worksheets to guide you through this transformation.
    Social Media: Risks and Rewards
    Social media forces organizations to take risks in communicating and makes them go outside their broadcast-out mentality. The principles of being open, trustworthy, generative, and courageous are critical during a crisis. Richard Sambrook, professor of journalism and director of the Centre for Journalism at Cardiff School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies at Cardiff University and former BBC director of news, says that the approach to social media during a crisis feeds back into the open and transparent culture organizations must embrace today.5
  1. Personal interview with Richard Sambrook, August 30, 2012.
    Organizations such as FedEx and McDonald’s have social media intertwined into everything they do. Social media fits into their corporate cultures, where the customer experience is central. I could go as far as to say that they are as close to human organizations as we can see today.
    FedEx’s Shea Leordeanu says that it is important to be where your customers are and connect with them there.6 I agree. You have to be aware of where your customers are, and you have to be willing to meet them there, often moving out of your organizational comfort zone. It is a risk; because your organization isn’t going to be loved by all, all of the time.
  2. Personal interview with Shea Leordeanu, August 30, 2012.
    Since 2010, FedEx has had customer service staff specialized in social media who monitor conversations. They are empowered to join in conversations and assist with questions and concerns that customers have. They use their names and share their email addresses with customers, establishing relationships with customers (see Figure 7.2).

Figure 7.2. FedEx has customer service staff specialized in social media who monitor and engage in conversations.
The question of scale comes into play here. Social media is about relationships; but how do you build relationships with millions of followers and fans? That is virtually humanly impossible. To narrow down the field, keep in mind the 90/9/1 rule of social media:

  • 90% of fans and followers are lurkers who may read but don’t contribute in any way.
  • 9% contribute infrequently.
  • 1% participate regularly and create most of the posts.
    One way to address the issue of scale is to identify that 10% of influencers. We’ve talked about influencers throughout the book; remember that it is important to know who these people are, especially in a crisis. McDonald’s knew who the influencers were and successfully reached out to them to help neutralize the Twitter photo hoax. You can go even further than identifying influencers and identify evangelists for your organization or specific causes/issues. Evangelists are people who are passionate about an organization’s products or services or a specific cause or issue. They may be experts. And they aren’t paid by the organization. It’s a good idea to identify evangelists both inside and outside social media, because they may not overlap. Again, there are platforms that can assist in identification, but good old-fashioned research is your best bet. Follow evangelists on social media platforms, listen to what they are talking about, and interact with them.
    FedEx and McDonald’s have separate digital media (social media is incorporated into digital media) crisis communications plans; however, digital media has a prominent role in everything both organizations do. FedEx and McDonald’s understand the importance of social media.
    Staff, Social Media, and Crisis Communications
    Staff is participating in social media as individuals. It is important to assist staff in their social media efforts by developing “rules of engagement,” or suggested ways for every employee to communicate on social media, regardless of whether it is for personal use or as a representative of the organization. While an organization can not ban staff from participating, an organization can provide a framework for employees. It is important that employees understand the appropriate use of social media, and an organization therefore needs to develop guidelines for them. There are a few resources out there to assist with developing such guidelines. There are free services that can help you draft customized social media policies. It’s important to include social media–savvy staff in drafting the guidelines and policies. Many companies are now including social media in their communications and professional conduct policies. Victorio Milian,7 a human resources professional who has worked for Fortune 500 companies and was an early adaptor of social media for human resources, shares that social media guidelines for employees should include the following sentiments:
  1. Personal interview with Victorio Milian, August 26, 2012.
  • Be professional—Regardless of the medium or forum, you represent the company and should act accordingly. When in doubt, keep silent.
  • Be clear—When speaking in a public setting (whether online or offline), make sure people understand when and if you’re acting on behalf of the company.
  • Be mindful—People can misinterpret your words. Public sentiment can go against a brand at any time, and it can escalate quickly. When you’re faced with a difficult situation, you need to know who your partners are, so it’s best to know that ahead of time. Also, you need to know what the company’s protocols are in terms of managing and responding to emergency situations.
    This is a good time to talk about staff, social media, and the changing dynamic. In traditional crisis communications, only one person or a core group of people is allowed to speak. Social media is challenging the traditional way. It is still very important to have one person who shares the information officially and stays on message. However, social media has added a new dimension: Staff can help during a crisis or make it worse, especially when it comes to social media. Again, it’s important to humanize the organization.
    With social media, every employee is a public figure for your organization. Working with your employees is key; you need to provide them with guidelines before a crisis happens, and during a crisis, you need to effectively communicate with them as partners, not as underlings. Your employees can be your best brand advocates, says Victorio Milian.8 Often, if employees are disgruntled, a crisis will elicit negative responses from employees. These can hinder responses sent from official channels that would otherwise have been effective. It is good to be aware of and understand what is happening in the ranks before a crisis happens. How well your organization treats its employees can come into play. Unhappy employees may very well damage the recovery from a crisis. The communications and human resources teams can craft perfect messages, but if employees are out there countering those messages, who do you think the media and public are going to believe? Exactly: the employees. The same goes for the flipside—when employees speak in favor of their organization. Think back to the FedEx example, when FedEx employees took to social media to defend their company ardently. It gave you a good impression of the organization, didn’t it?
  1. Personal interview with Victorio Milian, August 26, 2012.
    Staff need to be included in the crisis planning process and response. Especially important are social media–savvy staff members, who may have wider audiences and a more influential status online than does the organization itself. As Tonia Ries, founder and CEO of Modern Media and creator of TWTRCON, which is now The Realtime Report, says your employees are on social media, and often they are in the right place at the right time to provide information to their networks, and their networks will then share with their networks, getting the organization’s position out in an authentic way. It comes down to trust.9 Who do people trust? They trust people they have relationships with.
  2. Personal interview with Tonia Ries, August 17, 2012.
    Getting the Right People in Place
    I’d be remiss if I didn’t cover the social media staff, because they are important. To use a phrase from the book Good to Great by Jim Collins,10 you need to get the right people on the bus. The skill sets are still developing because social media as a business tool is relativity new, and not a lot of people have those skills.
  3. Jim Collins, Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap … and Others Don’t, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2001.
    Many job titles refer to social media; however, for simplicity’s sake, let’s focus for now on of the skills needed to be a community manager. The person’s responsibilities include managing your organization’s social media channels, creating and posting content, participating in conversations, and monitoring the chosen social media platforms. Community managers must be able to handle the demands of a crisis situation because, they will most likely be on the frontlines, handling the avalanche of negativity a crisis may generate. They have to be able to understand the different impact levels. And they must know how to determine whether something is indeed a crisis or whether it’s a headache and whether to elevate a situation and get more people involved in managing it. Community managers must understand that each social media channel will have a different tone because it’s targeting a different audience. While the overall message should be the same, each communication has to be made a bit differently. Remember that social media is fluid and relaxed. It is conversational. What works with a media release, on a website, or in a brochure won’t necessarily work on Twitter or Facebook. Community managers also need to understand the difference between personal and business social media. While your business can be conversational on social media, it should still be professional.
    Social media involves more than creating a Facebook page or a Twitter account; it is about relationship and community building. The following skills are important for a person who is handling an organization’s social media efforts:
  • Strong writing and editing skills—The person must be able to write and represent your brand well.
  • Customer relations skills—Social media is a conversation between your business and its customers. The person must be customer focused and have an understanding of sales, marketing, and customer service.
  • Problem-solving skills—Social media moves quickly, so the person should have sharp problem-solving skills and be able to think on his or her feet.
  • Listening skills—Since social media is a two-way conversation, the person needs to be able to listen and then react appropriately.
  • Metrics/analytics skills—The person should be able to read, digest, and then distill analytics data in meaningful terms to show the impact that social media activities have on the business.
  • Business skills—The person should be able to understand the organization’s business-related goals and how social media fits into them.
    Types of Social Media Crises
    Let’s shift gears now and talk about crises that are specific to social media. There are a few. In the book Social Media Strategist,11 Christopher Barger skillfully outlines six common types of crises in social media. There’s no need for me to re-invent the wheel when Barger has created such a solid list. This list works nicely with the levels of a crisis listed in Chapter 1. The following sections examine Barger’s six common types of crises in social media.
  1. Christopher Barger, Social Media Strategist: Building a Successful Program from the Inside Out, New York: McGraw Hill, 2012.
    Crisis Type 1: Individual-Generated Crises
    One type of crisis occurs when an employee does something unflattering, and it reflects on the company. Kenneth Cole, a U.S.-based international clothing company, ran into this in 2011 when the company CEO posted a tweet that made light of the serious situation in Egypt by tying a promotion for its spring line to it (see Figure 7.3). What Kenneth Cole did by attaching its brand to the hashtag #cairo is called “newsjacking.” Egypt was in the midst of a revolution and the tweet trivialized what was happening to millions in Egypt and the rest of the region. The online communities reacted with repulsion regarding this tweet; the company retracted the comment and issued an apology.

Figure 7.3. The insensitive tweet from Kenneth Cole.
With newsjacking, an organization attaches itself to a news story although it isn’t directly involved in the situation. Think before your organization uses a disaster- or news-related hashtag. If your organization has something of value to add to the disaster or news story, then it is okay to use the associated hashtag. If not, then don’t do it, or you risk coming across as opportunistic and/or insensitive.
Crisis Type 2: Customer Service #fails
A second type of crisis occurs when a company is not fulfilling its brand promises or a customer is disgruntled with his or her experience. Just think of American filmmaker Kevin Smith, of cult film Clerks fame. When Southwest Airlines removed him from a flight because of his weight in 2010, his complaint online spread quickly because of his more than 1.5 million Twitter followers at time. It swiftly became a news story that caused quite a headache for Southwest Airlines (see Figure 7.4).

Figure 7.4. A social media customer service #fail can cause headaches for your organization.
Crisis Type 3: Campaign Crises
The third type of crisis is an organized effort against a company by an activist group. Think Greenpeace and Nestlé’s Facebook page being hijacked over the company’s use of palm oil in its products. Or the now-infamous Twitter account of @bpglobalpr, which looked legit but was a parody account spoofing BP after the Gulf of Mexico spill in April 2010. In the beginning, many thought that @bpglobalpr was the voice of BP. It has and continues to have more followers on Twitter than the official BP account.
Crisis Type 4: Social Media #fails
The fourth type of crisis involves a social media campaign or tactic missing its mark and being received poorly in the social media sphere. In the fall of 2011, the Australian airline Qantas launched a social media campaign, #QantasLuxury, on Twitter. The company asked people to tweet what would be their best inflight experience. At the time, Qantas was having some flight disruptions. And users on Twitter pushed back, basically hijacking the hashtag with less-than-flattering responses.
Crisis Type 5: Organizational Brain Freezes
The fifth type of crisis is a “What were they thinking?” moment for an organization. Blogger relations can be murky for organizations. The rules in the blogosphere aren’t as clearly defined as in journalism, although a good rule of thumb is to treat bloggers as you would journalists. Media relations 101 applies here: You provide the blogger with information and samples, but you cannot tell him or her how to write the story or what to do. The expectation is that your organization will receive an unbiased story or review, and it will be favorable or at least neutral. That said, there is a practice of paying bloggers to write about products in a positive way. Both the blogger and the organization must disclose the relationship and the fact that it is a paid placement. In recent years, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission and Britain’s Office of Fair Trade have determined that organizations must disclose their hiring of bloggers and social media contributors; if they don’t, the trust between the blogger and the community will be violated, and consumer laws may be broken. Samsung, a South Korean multinational conglomerate known for electronics, got into hot water in 2012. The company had provided tech bloggers who were part of their outreach program “Samsung Mobiliers” the opportunity to attend a consumer electronics show held in Berlin. Two tech bloggers based in India were invited. In the invitation, the bloggers were given the option to either attend as a reporters or a promoters. They chose the reporter option, because they are independent bloggers and wanted not only to report on Samsung mobile devices, but other brands as well.12 They told Samsung that they weren’t interested in being brand ambassadors. Once in Germany, Samsung representatives informed them that they would be product demonstrators for the brand, and they should pick up their uniforms and report for an orientation. The bloggers reiterated their position as independent bloggers. Representatives threatened to cut them off by canceling their plane tickets and hotel rooms; the reps also told the bloggers that what had happened should not leave Berlin or reach India. One of the bloggers took to the Internet. The blogosphere lit up. Ultimately Samsung sent a statement to The Next Web, an online tech news outlet, which broke the story, stating it was a “misunderstanding” between the two bloggers and the coordinators on the ground. Samsung damaged its reputation with the tech blogging community, making it harder in the future to secure coverage for its products. The company could have avoided this mess if it had simply handled the electronics show as a straight press junket to cover a launch of their new products at a trade show or used a written contractual agreement for services.

    Many organizations preschedule tweets and Facebook posts using social management tools such as HootSuite. This can be really convenient for organizations, allowing them to share information 24/7, even when staff aren’t available. However, prescheduling tweets and posts can create a social media disaster. The National Rifle Association had such a moment in the summer of 2012, when a tweet went out after the horrific mass shooting in Aurora, Colorado, where 12 people were killed and 58 were injured when a gunman shot into an audience watching a midnight screening of The Dark Knight. The tweet from the @NRA_Rifleman account (whose profile has been since deleted) was “Good morning, shooters. Happy Friday! Weekend plans?”13 People were outraged by this tweet as news spread about the mass shooting in Aurora. The tweet had been prescheduled via HootSuite, before the scheduler knew about the shooting.
    Crisis Type 6: Three Mile Island Crises
    This type of crisis is a major organizational meltdown where all heck breaks loose. Such a crisis doesn’t have to be generated by social media, but it must be major news for an organization, such as a large multinational entity going bankrupt or a major misstep. Susan G. Komen for the Cure, whose mission is to find a cure for breast cancer, faced this type of crisis. In 2012, it had a major organizational meltdown from which it is still trying to recover. Komen for the Cure provides funding for breast cancer research and preventive care such as breast cancer screening. Komen for the Cure decided to defund Planned Parenthood, and a very public firestorm against Komen for the Cure ensued. In the United States, anything to do with Planned Parenthood is inflammatory. In addition, supporters of Planned Parenthood are as passionate as breast cancer survivors about their mission and are highly organized. Komen reinstated funding for Planned Parenthood a short time after the crisis began. Reasons for the defunding were unclear, but it was speculated to be politically motivated, and Komen for the Cure was gutted via social media platforms. Key members of the executive team resigned. One of Komen for the Cure’s major fundraising vehicle, Race for the Cure, has since seen participation decline by as much as 30%.14
    Managing a Social Media Crisis
    Now that you’ve seen many examples of social media crises, let’s talk about ways to manage these crises. Notice I didn’t say control a crisis but manage. The command-and-control no longer works. The one-way side street with a 35 mph speed limit is gone. We now live on a two-way highway with an unlimited speed limit. Your organization will get offensive and/or negative comments in social media, just like it does in comment boxes and surveys. That is just what happens in business. You can’t control what is being said about your organization. However, you can control how you respond to it. As Christopher Barger says, “The best defense is a good offense.” He is spot on with that phrase. If an organization’s first experience in social media is during a crisis, it will set up the organization for failure and damage its reputation further. Remember that the response to a crisis often has more impact on your reputation than the event that triggered the crisis.
    Your organization should participate in social media long before a crisis occurs. You have to have a presence. Think again about the “humanizing” value of being open and transparent. This builds trust. If your organization has a presence on social media and listens to conversations that are important to your customers and actually interacts with them outside the canned marketing messages, then you’ve built an online reputation and relationships. During a crisis, those relationships are key. Barger provides an example in his book. Say that your neighbor is accused of a crime. If you know this neighbor and have had positive interactions with him, then you are most likely going to give him the benefit of the doubt since you have an established relationship.15 But what if he is the neighbor nobody sees or interacts with and takes forever to bring in trash bins after trash collection? In this case, you’re more likely to believe he could have been involved in wrongdoing. This isn’t necessarily logical, but it is human nature, and it can be applied to organizations. People are more likely to give you the benefit of the doubt during a crisis if they have a relationship with you than if they don’t.
  4. Christopher Barger, Social Media Strategist: Building a Successful Program from the Inside Out, New York: McGraw Hill, 2012.
    Being present and listening in social media is key. In Chapter 6, we talked about PepsiCo’s Gatorade mission control center, which tracks, analyzes, and drives conversations that are important to the brand, based on online exchanges. Having a mission control center or a decent monitoring program can be your first line of defense in heading off a crisis. Remember that in Chapter 1 we talked about how most crises aren’t surprises to businesses. In a 2011 interview with Business Insider, Bonin Bough, who at the time was PepsiCo’s head of digital media, shared how the company built its control center.16 It is based in the marketing group and is a cross-functional team that monitors and tracks real-time data visualization of what customers are saying. The goal of this center is to deliver real-time marketing and at the same time deliver real-time insights and participation. Within this mission control center, it isn’t about who owns social media but about leadership.
    Bough talks about how a cultural shift is happening. The Gatorade mission control center is a glass room, so people can see that it is constantly changing. Everyone is reminded that digital media is at the center of customers’ lives. The mission control center has been a silo breaker, bringing people and functions together. This mission control center monitors every trackable consumer conversation. Gatorade had to be really smart about who it was listening to in order to separate important feedback from chatter. At the end of the day, Gatorade is learning about the health of its brand by listening to those consumer conversations. Based on conversations, Gatorade was able to identify myths and mistruths about the brand and go about educating consumers. It is doing this by actually bringing experts into the mission control center and having them speak with the various communities about topics that are important to those communities. Starting such a conversation with consumers can be daunting for brands. Most brands are used to pushing out messaging, but that isn’t going to cause meaningful interactions with customers because it is one sided. Starting a conversation could involve providing additional information, answering a question, connecting customers with a resource or person, or inviting them to a scheduled chat. It’s important to open conversations where people are asking for conversations to begin and build those relationships. That is the start of your good offense.
    Part of building those relationships is identifying communities of people who are important to your organization. You should be monitoring those individuals because they are involved in your industry and/or have said good or bad things about your organization or industry in the past.
    This maybe a good place to talk about engaging prominent online influencers, also known as the “Internet famous.” While I’m not a fan of singling out people, because I believe every customer is important and should be treated with care, we need to broach this topic. Someone who has 100,000 followers on Twitter has a bigger megaphone than someone who has 100 followers. When the person with 100,000 followers has an issue, more people will hear that person’s voice through retweets and blog posts. Just think about Kevin Smith and Southwest Airlines. You should provide frontline staff, especially in customer service, with a list of your prominent online influencers so when they are talking about the brand, appropriate response can take place to head off potential social media crises. Social media can quickly create or escalate a crisis, so you have to be monitoring and ready to respond.
    Integrating Social Media into the Plan
    It is time to integrate social media into your crisis communications plan. In Chapter 6 we talked about the steps you need to take to create a crisis communications plan. The principles are the same when you’re integrating social media as a channel in your crisis communications plan. However, you need to be aware of some things that are specifically geared toward social media:
    Don’t Censor Criticism
    Don’t censor criticism on your blog, Facebook page, or YouTube channel. This is a very difficult concept for an organization to wrap its mind around. Removing an offending comment subjects you to criticism, as evidenced by Chapstick’s deletion of comments on its Facebook page.
    Let’s stop here to talk about acceptable community behavior before we go on. Every community has expectations for civil behavior within that community. And this goes for online communities. You should post on your online platforms terms and guidelines for acceptable community behavior. Social media has given many the ability to share their voices publicly and anonymously. If a person or group is behaving against those community guidelines, you can remove the offending comments. However, if comments are within those guidelines but you just don’t like what is being said, you shouldn’t delete.
    When your organization is in a crisis—social media generated or otherwise—or there are coordinated attacks against you on social media, you have options. In the case of an attack on your organization’s blog, it is within your rights to disable comments and post a note explaining why you’ve done that. As on Twitter or Facebook, if you are allowing comments on your blog, it is important to respond to them. With your blog, you can disable comments on just one post; however, on Facebook, you have to disable commenting for the whole page. It would be a good idea to post a reminder informing users about your community guidelines and reinforcing your desire for constructive conversations. Then you can contact a person if necessary to let him or her know about the community guidelines and work to resolve the issue.
    It is important to be truly present on social media. That means interaction. It is good to post to your Facebook page or blog regularly to demonstrate that your organization is paying attention to the channel. It is good to respond to @’s on Twitter. Think back to the Progressive Insurance blog example in Chapter 5.
    Be Mindful of Your Tone
    Social media is individual, so when responding, be personal, polite, and professional while not using the “corporate” tone. Never respond in a dismissive or impolite manner, or you will only add fuel to the fire. Remember that you rarely hear about how well a company responds in news stories or blog posts; the media and bloggers latch on to the negatives and run with them.
    Bring Order to Your Online Space
    Don’t be afraid to bring order into your organization’s online space. Once that has taken place, you can start addressing the concerns. Acknowledge the situation quickly if it is a Level 2 or higher crisis. Gone are the days for shuttering the windows and saying nothing. You need to respond quickly and be forthright. If your organization has mishandled a situation, then admit you blundered, especially if it is in regard to a social media campaign or an individual-generated situation. If it is a more serious situation, then this is where the holding statements specifically written for social media come into play, providing the time you need to research the situation.
    Listen and Understand
    Listen to and understand what the negative commenters want. Do they want an apology? Acknowledgment? Do they demand change? Respond directly to a person, when possible. You can respond publicly and have an open conversation or acknowledge the concern and then take it offline. How you handle a particular situation depends on the factors involved. If it is a complaint and others chime in with the same complaint, then it would be a good idea to keep the response public and provide everyone with the same information.
    Different Channel, Different Tone
    Understand that different social media channels have different tones because they target different audiences. Each channel needs to say the same thing, but they can each say it differently. Keep in mind that social media is fluid and relaxed, and it is conversational. What works in a media release, on a website, or in a brochure won’t necessarily work on Twitter or Facebook. You should monitor and remain silent with a Level 1 crisis. This is where those relationships built with communities will pay off. Often, your champions will respond for you, righting the situation.
    Create a Crisis-Specific Twitter Account
    It is a good idea to create a crisis-specific Twitter account for a Level 2 or higher crisis. This will allow for the media and community to get efficient updates during a crisis. Remember that your website is your digital home, and all social media paths should lead there. Information on a crisis shouldn’t be hidden; it needs to be front and center on your website landing page.
    Keep Website and Social Platforms Updated
    You should keep your website and social platforms updated, with people available to interact. All this needs to happen 24/7. Crises rarely happen on Monday morning at 9 a.m. They usually happen on Friday afternoon at 4:58 p.m. or on the Saturday morning of a long holiday weekend. And when a crisis happens, it doesn’t stop for the weekend or holidays.
    Social media is a two-way conversation. You can’t completely prevent negative conversations or attacks, but you can ensure that effective interactions take place. You can manage the conversations by directing people to pages or sites your organization controls.
    Social media is like an onion: It has many layers, is diverse, can make you tear up, and can be sweet and mellow. It depends on how you prepare it.

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