Marketing Student Views

Perspectives by GMU Internet Marketing Students

Managing crisis with social media

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Blogger: Greg McKeone

In the digital age it is easier than ever to reach people on an individual level. This is a double edge sword as organizations and people can benefit from these channels or take crucial missteps. The archaic press release has been replaced by Twitter and Facebook to reach people instantly but just because we can reach people instantly doesn’t mean we should do so. A lot of social media crisis management is flawed because of the instant reactionary message the company takes without stopping and thinking of a strategy before moving forward. In a blog written by Chris Syme, she says “Plastering your messages hastily over every popular social media channel is a mistake. Where social media strategy is vital in business, it is more important in crisis to be strategic about your messaging.”(Syme, 2013) Just as in “Marketing in the Round” there is a need for not only strategy but synergy in crisis management through social media. All your channels must convey the same message and timed in accordance with one another. This is all done with patience and strategy.

In regard to coming up with a strategy, there are many tips and rules to follow. During any crisis, acknowledgement is vital. No one buys the “our account was hacked” excuse anymore because even if it was, the account is still your responsibility. Acknowledgement of crisis syncs with transparency but it also shows the public that you’re taking responsibility for your actions. The public respects accountability over excuses or silence. This brings us to another aspect of managing crisis, transparency.  In an article by Ekaterina Walter on she says “Certain companies have been guilty of removing posts they didn’t agree with, ignoring those posts, or else claiming that they had been hacked, when they clearly hadn’t. Trying to cover up or remove justified but negative comments can make you look as if you are ignoring a problem or, worse off, don’t care about the customers. It is critical to be honest and upfront about any issues you or your company may be facing.”(Walter, 2013) This is vital to good crisis management because everything that is posted on the internet lives forever. Trying to delete or take down anything controversial is pointless. The public isn’t stupid; the act of trying to cover up something usually just adds more fuel to the social media fire. You need to be up front and honest with the public with what happened, why it happened, what you are doing to correct it, and prevent it from happening again.

Finally, you must carefully plan a response and know where to put that response. Organization’s and people all know where there main following is whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, or a subset of all social media channels. You need filter your message into the best possible places to reach the largest clientele. If you don’t have a Facebook page, you don’t start one in a crisis you stick to where you are and where your following is. This is the most effective way to get your message out. There are many other aspects to consider when using social media to avert crisis, but these steps are a starting point. Transparency, acknowledgement, and strategy are the foundations of effectively using social media when using them to respond to a crisis.


Walter, Ekaterina. “10 Tips For Reputation And Crisis Management In The Digital World.” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 12 Nov. 2013. Web. 25 Nov. 2013

Syme, Chris. “How to Avoid Spreading Your Social Media Crisis Messages Too Thin.” CK Syme Media Group, 28 Aug. 2013. Web. 25 Nov. 2013.


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