Murphy’s Law states that anything that can go wrong will go wrong. This remains true in the world of social media.
A social media risk strategy should be created and in place well before your company experiences any sort of crisis that may affect its relationships with its industry partners and contracts. That’s because the real-time nature of social media can greatly help troubleshoot the crisis or issue your company is facing before it affects the business’s bottom-line. Plus, while you might not sell to the general public, your customers might, and in this interconnected society that we live in, social media matters.
Create a Strategy
Before any crisis can even happen, gather a team of people together to develop a social media strategy that fits your company and industry. At this meeting, consider any crisis your company might face, and how you’ll need to react and what you’ll need to do if said crisis escalates at all. Brainstorm every possibility of what could happen, no matter how far-fetched it might seem.
In addition to this brainstorming session, now would be a great time to create a social media policy for your employees as well; this policy can include what kind of access your employees have to social media, as well as regulations on what they can say about the company’s products, whether they’re factory equipment or software.
Develop a Social Media Presence
The goal of your B2B social media risk strategy should be to build a relationship with suppliers, customers and even employees. Keeping that in mind, start building out your pages. For example, an automotive parts manufacturer can repost industry-related news to their Facebook page and share content posted by car dealerships. Or, a green building products company could share photos of their products on Pinterest, as well as ‘like’ and ‘share’ content that their construction company counterparts post on Facebook. This way, well before any crisis or issue happens, you already have a presence and following on social media.
See What People Are Saying
Next, as you get familiar with your chosen social media sites, search your company’s name and any other identifiers (like the company phone number) to see what people might already be saying about you. Respond to anything negative in a polite manner. How you should respond to negativity should have been decided when your policy was crafted. Don’t just respond to the negative… thank people for any positive comments they’ve posted as well. Build as many solid relationships as you can.
What to Do When Crisis Hits
Before you start sending out messages on social media when crisis hits, communicate with the team that developed the crisis management strategy to make sure you’re all on the same page. The last thing you want is to send mixed messages. Then it’s time to take to social media and explain the situation, what steps the company plans on taking to resolve the problem, and when customers and partners alike can expect to hear from your company again.
The most important thing you need to do when communicating via social media is to take responsibility and be honest. People can tell, even online, when you’re not being totally transparent. That said, be careful when you craft your message so that there’s no chance of any misunderstanding. Then, keep the updates coming accordingly and across all social media sites. Once resolved, apologize and be done with the issue. It’s time to move on… but not to forget.
The last part of any social media crisis management should be to take steps to avoid the problem happening again. That way, everyone from your suppliers to your customers knows that they can trust you.