The top 4 ways to protect your business from a social media crisis

In this era of technology-driven marketing, brands find it easy to share information with their valued clients. Social

In this era of technology-driven marketing, brands find it easy to share information with their valued clients. Social media helps businesses to build their brand. This is in a better way than traditional marketing. On the other side, it is very easy to damage your brand reputation via social media. As social media permeates the workplace, companies are quickly finding themselves on the scrutinizing spotlight. Consider the fact that information shared via Internet spreads very fast. Therefore, regardless of your smooth social media experience, a day might come when something goes wrong. This leads to an anticipated social media crisis.

We have seen big brands commit mishaps on social media. These end up having dire consequences for the company. Note that this can happen through a post on your company social media page, or even employee’s personal profile. How a company will respond to the crisis matters most. Your response can make-up or completely break your reputation. Therefore, it becomes very important to know how you can respond when a social media crisis takes place. In this article, we focus on how to protect your company and share the best approaches that can be implemented to get you through a social media crisis.

#1 Social Media Monitoring To Identify Potential Crisis and Respond Appropriately

How do you identify a looming social media crisis? Social media monitoring is the answer of course! A good media monitoring report can provide vital insights and early warning signs. In some cases, you will not be able to see the wrath that might follow after posting on social media. The truth is that sometimes content doesn’t work as planned. Therefore, even after having multi-level approvals before a post, something might just slip off. This makes it important to monitor and identify the response/reaction you get after posting.

Perhaps the words you used have a double meaning, or you used a hashtag that has a negative past without your knowledge. In other cases, you might think you are right, but social media users take your message completely out of context. Therefore, through monitoring, this is the only way you can be able to identify when to respond to negative reputation. An advantage of monitoring is that you can gain control of a situation before it gets out of hand. Consider a company that posts on Twitter or Instagram on Friday evening and doesn’t monitor the response. To begin with, people have more free time on the weekends. This is when social media stories are re-shared and people tagged. If you don’t maintain close monitoring, by next login the damage will already be almost permanent.

Therefore, employ close social media monitoring. It is the only way to know what is going on. Don’t wait for your reputation to be completely damaged before you respond. There are several social media monitoring techniques that you can employ.

If you realize that you made a mistake, don’t go ahead and cover the mistake like Uber did. Already the damage might be extensively done! There are many critics online waiting for you to blunder and take the chance to destroy your reputation. Therefore, these might have captured the new post you sent and are ready to attack. After the incident breaks off, don’t jump to a conclusion.

Launch an investigation and identify where the mistake lies. It could be an overlook by your employee or just an overreaction from the followers. Apologize for the mistake done and let this be your learning opportunity. Then, you should employ the best reputation protecting techniques.


In February 2018, KFC was facing distribution challenge after they changed the delivery service provider to DHL. The hungry customers run to Twitter immediately and began tweeting using the hashtag #KFCCrisis. KFC responded immediately to explain the issue.

#2 Include Key Influencers in Your Crisis Plan

You actually don’t know when bad forces tumble your brand online. Having an influencer who assumes the role of company spokesperson can save you from the aftermath of social media crisis. An article on on how influencers help, says that “because they are an unaffiliated voice, their opinion is viewed as unbiased and can help calm the situation”.

It is essential that influencers come out not only to promote but also to protect your brand. Consider the fact that these are people who in the past earned you additional followers. This is based on their ability to influence the minds and actions of active social media users. These influencers can get you out of social media crisis before you start feeling the heat. Therefore, be ready to mobilize them during a PR crisis on social media or basically online.

Think of the role of influencers not only as a social media spokesperson but also as a brand ambassador. Brand ambassador is to make sure any misconceptions are cleared before they begin costing you sales. Essentially, the brand ambassador makes sure customers get the original message that was intended to be communicated to them.

In this case, you were targeting social media followers who are also esteemed clients. Therefore, the influencer should be able to clear the air and save you from losing your online reputation. If the damage is already felt, the influencer will help you reclaim the lost glory.

Before you settle on the influencers to mobilize so as to protect your reputation, you need first to ensure they are people with positive impact in the past. Be keen to identify the main issue your followers have raised online. What is the main issue of concern? This should be the first question to ask. Thereafter, identify the best influencer who can help you manage social media crisis of that nature. Let the influencer be someone who has a positive reputation online.


Do you remember the Zika crisis that happened before the summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro Brazil? Brands including hotels in Brazil, cruise ships, and tour companies were also facing a hard time. On social media, people could not stop discussing how there was a potential risk of contracting the virus on traveling for the summer games.

However, players like Puerto Rico Tourism Company approached influencers like Chita Rivera who shared recorded “Facts not fear” Video and shared the message with followers on Twitter. The tour company was able to encourage tourism despite the spread of negative messages on visiting Brazil.

#3 Create an Internal Social Media Guide Book (Rules of Engagement)

Now that you already know mistakes happen, it is important to create an internal social media guidebook for your employees. This is in an effort to reduce the chances of making similar mistakes in the future. Remember that sometimes mistakes are inevitable. Therefore having a guideline for your staff is paramount. This is regardless of whether it’s just one person running your social media agenda.

Some companies will craft a guide that also governs the use of personal social media platforms. We have read incidents where even a junior employee posts something on the personal social media channel, and it ends up becoming the cause of social media crisis for the company. When crafting the social media guidebook, you might consider the following:

What to Cover in Social Media Engagement Handbook

  • Let the employees understand the importance of spelling and grammar when posting on social media.
  • Educate them on tone choice when engaging with your followers.
  • How to relate to current affairs. This is another important consideration since a poor choice of words after national disaster can trigger a social media crisis.
  • Encourage multi-level approval and checking procedures to minimize For this to work effectively, you can use social media scheduling tools.
  • Educating your employees on how to maintain political neutrality in their postings.

These are just examples of some of the issues to touch on in your social media use book. Finally, make sure that your staffs are aware of the existing guide. Ensure they know the consequences of not adhering to the guidelines.

#4 Understand the Expectation of your Social Media Followers

Your social media followers have particular expectations from your brand. This is basically the main reason why they will follow you on social media. For instance, they expect that you will listen to them keenly and attentively. Therefore, whenever there is a crisis, they expect you to address it immediately.

For instance, an airline company should communicate to their clients immediately when there are changes in operations. If the airline fails to, the passengers who also happen to be the airline’s followers will start complaining on social media. They will also complain that you did not give a clear reason and that you disrespected their loyalty. This is one of the reasons why airlines get into social media crisis. To avoid all the possible aftermath, just communicate to them and keep them engaged to calm them.


Delta, an American airline, recently faced social media crisis when their flight faced delay. The flight landed on time. However, the passengers were forced to wait for up to an hour seated in the plane. When patience was gone, they expressed their disappointment on social media. Shortly, the story was trending online. Here is a screenshot of what ensued after the airline could not deliver to expectations of their clients.


Your customers should always come first. Therefore, whenever there is a crisis at back office, and you can deliver to expectations, don’t wait for complains so that you can respond. Be proactive and communicate expected service disruption. By so doing, you will be able to keep the customers calm, and they will not create a social media crisis.

Communicate how soon your services will be back and keep responding to customer concerns. Advise on alternatives where you can and make sure you monitor the comments and reactions as they come. Swiftly respond to negative comments and talk directly to the agitated client.

An article published in proposes that social media handlers should think like public relations professionals when using social media. Further, they should also have the mindset of a marketer to ensure they talk to the client without ruining the relationship

Key Takeaways

Social media channels are a good place for the marketers to find new customers. Public relation has also been taken to social media. Therefore, it is important for the traditional marketers and public relation officers to learn how to effectively use social media. Note that while marketing, you should also apply the PR rules and vice versa. Otherwise, you will not be able to relate well to social media followers.

Managers in PR should advice other departments how to relate to social media followers. This is where the social media engagement handbook becomes necessary. This doesn’t mean you ignore the offline comments. Word of mouth still matters, and so it is important to track what they are saying about you. Ensure you act proactively whenever there is a social media crisis.

Delaying further can lead to serious damage online. Lastly, involve influencers and let them be your brand ambassadors. Whenever there is a looming social media crisis, you can divert the attention easily using a top industry influencer. These are the best ways that you can use to prevent social media crisis. Note that it might not be possible to tell when a crisis will happen.  

Manos Perakakis

About Manos Perakakis

Manos is the co-founder of Mentionlytics. He has a PhD from Brunel University in User Experience and HCI. Also, he has also been teaching Digital Marketing and Web Design to Bachelor degree students for the past 9 years, as a lecturer in Hellenic Mediterranean University. • Follow Manos on TwitterCheck Manos on Linkedin