How to Get Your Business Through a Social Media Crisis

Angry social media user
So you made a mistake on social media. Maybe it was your fault — a funny typo went viral or a well-intentioned post got some negative attention. Maybe it wasn't — somebody guessed the password and made some very embarrassing posts. Either way, you're in damage-control mode now.

Warren Buffett is credited with saying, "It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it." The explosion of social media has turned that five minutes into five seconds, since every mistake, regardless of if it's made on social media or in traditional advertising, is quickly broadcast to the world. How you react to a social media crisis will dictate whether it takes a week or a year to rebuild your reputation.

If you're trying to recover from a marketing faux pas or simply want to be prepared for the inevitable, here are some tips for getting your company through a crisis.

Have a Plan


You are never as insulated from internet infamy as you think you are. Even when you have eight people reviewing every piece of content or social media post, a simple mistake can still get through and quickly go viral. A marketing campaign that seemed like a good idea at first can still get a poor public reaction as well. That's why it's important to have a plan for potential negative backlash.

Many businesses are quick to delete posts or pull ads and quietly hope the furor all goes away over time. No matter what goes into your crisis plan, be sure you include a public statement or apology acknowledging the mistake. After that, your strategy needs to cover what you're going to do moving forward. How long will you wait before resuming your normal social media campaigns? Will you respond to negative comments directly? What will you say? Being prepared and reacting quickly can help mitigate any long-term damage.

Highlight Your Loyal Customers


Bouncing back and rebuilding your reputation after a marketing mistake is the hardest part of the process. Social media makes it easy for people to chime in about your business, especially if you've made a mistake that earns the internet's ire.

However, it's also in times like these that you might find some of your most loyal customers are willing to defend a product or service they love. Highlight these loyal customers by liking and sharing their comments. Word of mouth will always be one of the strongest forms of marketing, and using it to your advantage will help you emerge from a crisis.

Newsjack With Caution


Newsjacking to generate exposure for your brand can be a great marketing and social media tactic. However, you should never capitalize on a tragedy. If you want to acknowledge a somber event, do so tastefully and avoid putting your logo on any image or tying your comments to a product or service you offer.

Also remember that timing is everything. There's no faster way to be dragged through the mud by social media users than to have a prescheduled marketing post go out in the midst of a catastrophe. Be aware of what's going on in the world so you're not promoting a special sale or even a product launch at a sensitive time.

The internet has made it easy for word about your mistakes to get around quickly. Have you survived a social media crisis? What was your strategy for dealing with the problem? How did you prepare for any future mistakes? Let us know in the comments.