We all know how important word of mouth is, and negative feedback must be dealt with effectively as, unfortunately, it tends to spread a lot faster than the positive. An effective digital crisis management strategy helps you to prepare yourself for those times when you need to act fast to control these situations.
A digital crisis occurs when you have a few negative comments spreading virally across social media networks or developing into a range of heated discussions, causing others to question your business’s integrity or quality of service. You need to get the crisis under control before it affects your brand too badly. This is digital crisis management.
Once the crisis has been controlled and its impact minimized, you will also need to implement social damage control to repair the damage done and recover from the crisis.
An effective digital crisis management strategy involves the following:
- Constant monitoring
It’s important to monitor your brand consistently so that you are immediately aware of what people are saying about your brand and can react accordingly.
- Have a plan in place
You need to know how you will deal with situations before they arise, so that you can react as quickly as possible without wasting time trying to decide how to proceed.
- Immediate response
You can’t waste time when responding to a digital crisis, as it is likely to escalate more and more the longer you leave it. Even if you can’t actually do anything about it straight away, make sure you let those involved know you’re looking into it and are not ignoring the problem.
- Be consistent in your response
You may have to deal with the crisis across several channels and it’s therefore important to keep your message consistent. You don’t want to undermine your integrity by sending confused messages to those involved in the various discussions.
- Prepare your employees
Make sure that all your employees understand the position your business is taking in a crisis, so that they can react appropriately in any associated communication they are involved in, whether at work or not.
- Be honest
Don’t try and hide things from the public as this will just exacerbate the problem if they find out. Admit any mistakes your business has made and let them know what you plan to do to fix them.
- Keep listening
Once you’ve responded, you need to keep listening to what is being said in order to know whether or not more needs to be done to resolve the problem. Continue to take part in the conversations with customers as effective communication is one of the best ways to regain trust.
- Follow up regularly
Make sure those involved in the discussions are kept up to date with what you are doing to resolve the issue. Give specifics, rather than just telling them you are dealing with it. Continue to do this until the situation has been completely resolved.
- Appeal to loyal customers
It may be worth getting some of your loyal customers involved in the discussions (if they are willing), as their responses may be taken more seriously than yours, as long as their messages are both sincere and in keeping with your business’s position on the issue.
If you create a digital crisis management strategy based on the above before you actually encounter a problem, you’ll be in a strong position to react immediately to resolve any issues before they get even further out of hand. Being prepared is key to minimising any damage done and recovering from it as quickly as possible.