5 Crucial Crisis Management Tips

By: Jozefien Verhaeghe

September 5, 2013

community management
crisis management

Community management: a series of blog posts – part 8

Working nine to five… But not when you’re a Community Manager. Your audience doesn’t just disappear when that one enthusiastic colleague yells “TGIF – hello weekend!” No. Consumers don’t limit conversations about your brand to the standard 9-to-5 work day. Maybe it’s because your fans live all over the world or maybe you have an active community – regardless, the fact remains: you will often take your work home with you because consumers operate outside of ‘business hours’. And when your brand is suffering from a crisis, you’ll really be working overtime.

Let’s keep our fingers crossed it never happens to your brand, but the truth is it even happens to the best of us. Remember Toyota? Their sales figures were consistently increasing and their customers were satisfied – then suddenly the negative-buzz-bomb detonated.

Plan ahead – Don’t just be reactive, be proactive as well

Getting your social media umbrella ready before the rain starts to fall will get you a long way. Think about what kind of crises could happen to you, and what the appropriate response would be. Having all of this in your back pocket before a crisis hits will give your employees more confidence, and it will speed up your response time in the case of a huge social media storm.

Fast but not Furious

Reaction time is crucial in times of crisis. The quicker you are able to respond, the less room there is for rumors – that can potentially harm your brand even further – to spread. Monitoring is crucial here. With a little help of a tool, you can easily detect when something is up.

Even more critical than reaction time is defining the way you will react. Like John F. Kennedy said: “The word ‘crisis’ is composed of two characters. One represents danger, but the other stands for opportunity.” And hey… Who are we to disagree with him? Every disaster holds an opportunity to change your audience’s mind and maybe even round up a few believers (remember our blog post on 5 groups and how to interact with them?). Just try to stay calm and don’t be afraid to admit a mistake. People will forgive you much faster if you’re honest about it and apologize sincerely.


Be smart…

…and diminish your workload wherever possible. As you can imagine, the amount of mentions during a crisis can be gigantic. Again, a good tool can help you out here. It will not only help you keep track of the different mentions across multiple platforms, but also enable you to have certain replies sent out automatically. For example, you can send out a reply to all people mentioning the crisis, explaining that you are working on it or maybe redirect them to an official communiqué.

Depend on your army of brand lovers

Even those brands facing a huge social media crisis still have loyal brand lovers who will defend them at all times. Try to figure out who they are, and let them know that their trust in you is grounded. In times of crisis they can help you convince the skeptical people who would otherwise maybe turn their back on you.

Learn from your mistakes

‘Learning from your mistakes’, it’s a lesson nearly all of us were taught in kindergarten. Yet so many brands forget to implement this approach when the crisis is over. Determining what processes didn’t work so smoothly will help you handle the next crisis even better. But let’s hope that doesn’t happen too soon. After all, even the best Community Managers can use a night off :-).


Community management: a series of blog posts: