Suddenly everybody is talking about social media crises.

  1. I was talking to a neighbor the other day about a conference she attended on social media. She said that a decent portion of the conference was dedicated to social media crisis communications and told me about the Motrin-Moms social media incident .
  2. I just had a conversation with HubSpot customer and WI PR Agency owner , Jessica Dennis. She was explaning how her company is putting together PR contingency plans for their clients. They ask "what if" questions that could cause PR problems, then create communication plans for them. She pointed me to a great article about Slideshare's April Fools joke gone wrong
  3. Then, I learned about the feces-in-your-food Domino's fiasco this morning .

Two screw ups created a video of themselves defiling food orders with their bodily fluids.  Domino's responded in the right way , but took too much time to do so.

Here's more coverage from the blogosphere and mainstream media: WSJ , Mashable , MarketingVox , SAI .

Do you need a social media crisis contingency plan?

Sort of. If you're a brand name company, your Monday morning meeting should be about how you'll monitor social media and respond to issues. 

Before you get to that, whatever size your business is, you should first figure out your social media engagement plan. 

With social media, the size and strength of your network determines how many people will hear and share ANY of the messages you want distributed and amplified. Planning what you're going to say, who will respond and what some of these scenarios will be is critical -- but none of your plans will work if your business isn't already engaged.

Why it's critical to start building your following before you have a crisis.

  1. You can't respond to negative criticism or inaccurate statements from your customers, prospects or (in Domino's case) your employees, unless people trust you. They won't trust you if your first You Tube video comes right after a crisis.
  2. The size of your following (not your budget) will help you quickly address problems . You can't build a following unless you participate in the community all along. Follow social media marketing plans like Zappos and Comcast follow .  They know what they're doing. They do social media because it has positive bu$ine$$ benefit$ .
  3. Social media builds blog subscribership and SEO traffic. If you do social media right, as part of a broader inbound marketing strategy that includes SEO, blogging and social media , you'll generate more traffic, leads and sales from your business blog and SEO. If you do social media crisis planning only, you won't get these benefits.

So, if you're worried about a social media crisis, don't think about it narrowly. Focus on building a following online that will help you get out a trusted message when you need it.

free template: social media crisis plan

Originally published Apr 20, 2009 4:49:00 PM, updated February 01 2017