Crisis Management on Social Media

Jun 24, 2015

Social Progress were one of forty local businesses to exhibit at the Wakefield Business Conference on Wednesday 24th June 2015. The event was organised by the Mid-Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce and also included seven seminars across the day. Janet Bebb was one of the speakers and this particular blog post is an overview of what she presented.

Social Media Crisis Management: Ready, Steady RELAX it’s Under Control

When it comes to crisis management we can think of the big disasters like plane crashes, tsunami or big traffic accidents. Sometimes we can forget the everyday requests and reports from customers and clients are just as important and need addressing as well. Janet’s presentation covered planning, examples of crisis management (good and bad), preparation, how to listen, how to investigate and other helpful pointers to ensure you have a plan set in place in case of a crisis.

Prevention & Planning: The age-old-sayings “prevention is better than the cure” and “communication is key” are extremely applicable to effective and efficient crisis management. Planning will give you and your employees peace of mind because, if something were to happen, they know that it’s covered and there is a plan as to how to address it.

Janet shared a few examples of bad and good crisis management on social media.

Examples of companies who had no crisis management plan or very little clue as how to address a situation correctly:

Facebook Post from Luton Airport: “Because we are such a super airport…. This is what we prevent you from when it snows……. Weeeee J”
Reality of the Image: Southwest airline plane, Chicago, killed a 6 year old boy

Crisis Management on Social Media - Janet Bebb - Social Progress Ltd - Wakefield Business Conference 2015


Anti-Pepsi Facebook Page set up by Cristiano Ronaldo fans: Received over 100k likes in one day!

Crisis Management on Social Media - Janet Bebb - Social Progress Ltd - Wakefield Business Conference 2015


HMV Twitter Takeover: Employees took over the company Twitter account and announced that 60 staff members we being fired. Senior managers couldn’t lock down the account.

Crisis Management on Social Media - Janet Bebb - Social Progress Ltd - Wakefield Business Conference 2015


Janet then progressed to show how Alton Towers had their crisis management covered and how well they managed the Rollercoaster Crash earlier in June 2015.

Alton Towers were clear about what was going on and what had happened. They were informative and honest, they took responsibility instead of shifting the blame and they kept everyone updated. One great point to make is that they continuously responded to comments and directed people to an FAQ Page on their website. This kept the balance between customer service (still directly communicating with customers) and time management (most questions could be answered on the FAQ Page thus freeing us staff time to respond elsewhere).

Crisis Management on Social Media - Janet Bebb - Social Progress Ltd - Wakefield Business Conference 2015

Not only did customers use social media to vent and ask questions, but they also encouraged and praised the Merlin staff for their efforts to keep everyone informed, updated for being on the ball. Alton Towers are a great example of how planning and preparation is key for effective crisis management.

However, we’re not all as big a company as Alton Towers Resort – what about the SMEs and other types of businesses? Well, here are a few pointers (for every type of company) which Janet walked the delegates through:

Plan and Be Prepared:

  • Have a social media policy, social media guidelines and a STRONG community engagement plan
  • What steps need to be taken if a crisis arises?
  • Should be linked to Terms of Service (ideally a designated page on your website)
  • A list of who in the company needs to be notified
  • What steps will be taken to control it?

Pay Attention:

  • Listen to the online conversation
  • Use social media listening tools like Hootsuite
  • What’s being said about your brand / company?

Analyse: Is it really a crisis?

  • How did it originate?
  • Are your customers affected?
  • Are others affected?
  • Who’s rallying round the issue?
  • Are they backing you or against you?
  • Listening will help shape your response

Quickly Acknowledge It:

  • Speed matters
  • Be informative
  • Be transparent – admit if you are wrong
  • Let the public know you know

Let People Speak:

  • Be where they’re talking – if you’re not there you won’t be able to address anything
  • Benefits of Facebook v Twitter – Facebook has more typing room to explain things, Twitter is for short and quick responses (anything can spread like wildfire on both platforms!)
  • Control the conversation – again, if you’re not on there you can’t control it!

Stay Cool!

  • NEVER get into a public argument
  • Put yourself in the public’s position
  • Acknowledge the comment/tweet and ask them to take the conversation offline if it gets heated – don’t delete the comment or tweet! If you’ve responded to it then it shows other viewers that you are responsive and have dealt with the situation.

Have an Information Station:

  • Develop an area on your website where you can direct people to
  • Add relevant up to the minute info
  • Have a FAQ section (like Alton Towers)
  • Do direct concerned followers to the URL
  • Streamline communication – make sure everyone knows how to respond and where to direct people to

Turn Negatives into Positives

  • Apologise
  • If you did something wrong – own up!
  • Explain – “communication is key”
  • Don’t apportion the blame elsewhere
  • Turn upset fans into loyal customers
  • Take responsibility
  • Don’t delete consumer comments
  • Give thought to how you will rebuild

To finish Janet put up this “Issues Management Response Flowchart” by Agnes + Day.

Crisis Management on Social Media - Janet Bebb - Social Progress Ltd - Wakefield Business Conference 2015

Issues Management Response Flow Chart – from

So in conclusion we’d like to ask if you have a crisis management plan of not? Are you ready to respond? It is up to you (as a business) to decide how detailed the plan gets and what you feel is necessary. However, whether it’s a negative comment, a bad review or a terrible accident, businesses need to be ready as to how to respond in the most appropriate and efficient way.

Did you visit the Wakefield Business Conference on Wednesday 24th June 2015? Were you at the Social Media Crisis Management seminar and did you find it helpful?


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