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Causes of Crises: Overlooking Social Media

October 9, 2018



Social media is a fabulous - essential -  place to be. The rewards are immense.


However, too many organisations make some really basic mistakes. Amongst the most common are:

  • Inconsistent policies across numerous, inconsistent accounts

  • Not having a strategy for its use

  • Not monitoring

Too often, even now, busy operational executives just want the social media  ‘problem’ dealt with. They know they have to do it, so half heartedly delegate the problem, which leads to…


The Intern Syndrome


Age is no indicator of ability, but people who haven’t yet discovered the joys of social for business have a tendency to write it off to younger people.


This means that often they pass social media to someone with a strong personal presence, but no idea of strategy or messaging, and little experience of corporate tone of voice. For a small company, if this individual fits the brand, fine, and companies that sell only on price can sometimes get away with the odd online spat.


Social media is the most immediate, interactive, close communication with individuals outside of the sales process. It’s too important to leave to the most junior team member. Yes, get them involved. Mix  their experience, view, creativity, freshness, along with that of other people. But temper this with a solid hand on the tiller and experienced customer care specialists/experts as required.


Too many times to we hear the intern blamed for a crisis – and that’s not fair on anyone.


Failing to prepare


Everyone has moments on social media. Indeed if a social media specialist has never had a problem, they shouldn’t be let out alone!


Much can be done to prepare.


There’s nothing worse than needing a statement and finding the internal contact list is out of date so key people to offer judgement, check the legals or sign off are blissfully unaware of the fact that a storm’s brewing without them.


There’s nothing more frustrating for the social media manager than revealing something that backfires because something’s changed internally and no-one bothered to tell them.


Crisis planning can stop a problem becoming a crisis. Social media training, notably messaging, can avoid problems. Social media policies, properly implemented and changed, can head things off at the pass.


Not taking your brand seriously


Behind Twitter handles named ‘The Real X’ or ‘X-Official’ is often the story of an unclaimed brand.


Someone grabs the brand name account and pretends to be them. Sometimes this is incredibly funny, a deliberate parody and not intended to harm. In which case it’s hardly a problem, and in a round about way fairly flattering. But when someone pretends to be you to demonstrate an uncaring side in a problem situation, you have a bigger problem than the initial lack of care.


Avoidable and Manageable


I’d estimate that around 80% of the crises I see would have been avoidable with better preparation and processes.


These don't have to be administrative ‘sign off’ before posting nightmares. Whilst having posts agreed in advance can be a great way of managing routine marketing postings, any kind of customer care function or reactive sales presence should not be hampered in this way – they need empowering, training and guidelines.


Some issues are sensitive and for reasons such as legal cases may demand standard responses, but beyond this, with only a few exceptions. you’re creating problems for yourself that could result in a crisis.




The debate over whether someone internal or external people should be driving social media often rears its head. The only possible response is ‘use the best person available’.


It’s way more genuine to have someone internal, and is likely to give you easy access to expertise. But if there’s no-one available or skilled enough to do it internally, a good third party can be great. Pick carefully. Know who’s doing the work. Don’t leave it to chance.


The choice of internal or external management is one that’s unique to your situation and, despite many claims to the contrary, is rarely the thing that will create or fail to prevent a crisis situation. It’s all about the individual managing an account and the help and support they are given or giving.


Get help before you need it


Obviously I’d love it to be me you choose to support with your crisis prevention, policies and training.


But whether it’s me or someone else, do yourself a favour and plan with an experienced professional. Because social media, more than any other communications crisis, can spread a problem like wildfire, take it out of your control. Don't leave it on your 'to do' list: sort it now!


Contact Waves PR


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