How to Manage the Unpredictable: 4 Tips for Social Media Professionals

Maintaining social media accounts has become an essential part of running a company. No matter how many tweets you schedule in advance or how smartly you plan your Facebook calendar, though, using social media means giving up some control over the public face of your business.

Think of it this way. Managing your social media sites is like going on a whale-watching expedition: You can pick the time and place, rent a boat, and plan a route, but you can’t guarantee the whales will show up.

Issues with customers on social media can be similar. Clients will comment — in positive and negative ways — at any time; and once they do, it’s up to your team to determine the best way to respond.

The best way to handle unpredictable situations on social media is to expect the unexpected and create a crisis management protocol. Below are four strategies you should cover to keep your public face looking its best.

  1. Respond with Speed

One of the strongest predictors of whether a firm can bounce back is the speed with which it responds when damaging comments hit the web. Even if it means posting a brief comment from your smartphone while you get back to your office, it’s vital to address the issue promptly.

Don’t try to hide from a problem. It will only get bigger if you try.

  1. Study Potential Threats

Social media empowers you to connect with clients in different ways, but it can also breed new kinds of problems. That makes it necessary to assess potential risks and take preventive measures.

These might include requiring employees sign a non-disclosure agreement, directing them not to discuss where they work on social media, or offering IT training to instruct staff about potential social media risks.

  1. Craft Creative Messages

What you say to your clients after a security breach or negative media storm is as important as how you say it. Since visual media is becoming more popular than traditional text and email, you might consider crafting a multimedia response to a given crisis, such as a video message to clients.

This can provide the personal touch that will reassure anxious clients while feeding into the preferred media format at the same time. A strong video response also has the potential to go viral – something that is less likely with a text-based response.

  1. Maintain an Emergency Budget

In order to respond adequately to negative social media traffic, you need to have money set aside for a solid push. For small issues, you may only need to boost your Facebook posts enough to overwhelm a harsh critique, but larger issues can demand weeks of increased expenditures to overcome.

You want to be certain that having to respond to this type of unexpected exposure won’t smash your budget for the rest of the quarter.

Handled correctly, your social media accounts have the potential to yield great benefits. But in order to get those, you also have to open your brand to the risk of very public and potentially negative feedback … and be prepared for that, because you are more than likely to encounter some during your professional career.

If you stick to the high road and lean on the strengths of your business, however, you should come out unscathed.