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Perspectives by GMU Internet Marketing Students

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Managing crisis with social media

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 The archaic press release has been replaced by Twitter and Facebook to reach people instantly but just because we can reach people instantly doesn’t mean we should do so.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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“Did that really just happen?” Social Media Crisis Management

Blogger: Diane Wells

We have all seen that one post, picture, tweet, etc. that has made us ask, jaws dropped, “did that really just happen?”  Social media problems arise every day in today’s society.  A company has the option to fix it or fall deeper into the hole of crisis.  According to Ozgur Alaz, author of Ozurg Alaz: 7 Steps For Social Media Crisis Management, there are 7 steps for social media crisis management.  These steps include:

  • Preparation
  • Knowing relationships
  • Knowing stakeholders
  • Choice of strategy
  • Micro management/ Know your tools
  • Abundant records
  • Social media statement


Alaz stresses the importance of preparation when it comes to social media crisis management.  There are three components of preparation; eliminating risks, competent in social media, and tools to manage crisis.  According to Alaz, eliminating risks increases your brand value.  Eliminating risks also relates to the competence of social media in your company.  All employees need to be knowledgeable of social media; eliminating the threat of those who are not by providing informational advice, will greatly benefit a company by taking away the threat of employee mistakes.  The last preparation must is the need for crisis management tools.  An example Alaz uses is the use of a crisis meeting room.  Preparing for a crisis is a must do in terms of management.

Knowing Relationships

Building relationships is another key component of social media crisis management.  Alaz states that social media can get to a lonely state because there are millions of users to interact with and few companies to befriend.  He believes the company needs to create relationships and retain people who will defend the company.  He calls these people/companies “brand friends”, he also states, “Brand friends know you, trust you and defend you when it’s necessary.”  This will in turn lead to loyalty and trust in your company, as well as a “friend” to help back you up during crisis.

Knowing Stakeholders

Stakeholders are the people who are invested in your company.  Alaz stresses that a company must get to know its stakeholders in order to come up with a strategy.  He also states that stakeholders are not just customers; they are employees, suppliers, government, journalists, and investors.  According to Alaz, “it’s important to create a stakeholders map and think about their motivations and communication channels that lead to them.”  This is vital to the creation of the company’s strategy.

Choice of Strategy

Alaz writes that it is important to know that a company’s strategy will change frequently based on different situations.  This being said, a company relies on scenario analysis and keeping their employees updated.  He explains that there are some strategic decisions to be made, which include; “What’s your message?”, “What’s your attitude?”, “How will you create plausibility?”, “Will there be any official statements made? How frequent will they be?”.  These all are great questions to ask in order to be fully prepared for any issues that arise.

Micro Management / Know Your Tools

It is important to be able to micro manage questions/comments that arise.  Alaz suggests each member of the crisis team answer questions via their personal twitter accounts; allowing more questions to be answered.  He states, “The reason I recommend to use employees’ accounts is that by doing this you’ll start a dialogue instead of just “answering” and it’ll feel more convincing and genuine”.  It’s all about creating the relationship and providing useful information to your audience.  Another necessity of crisis management consists of knowing your tools.  Knowing your resources and communication channels will help when applying the strategy.

Abundant Records

When a crisis occurs it is imperative to have abundant records in order to defend your company.  Alaz explains that records can range from camera recordings to positive comments on your social media site.  All of these records will help you have an advantage over the crisis situation.

Social Media Statements

Alaz points out three things that need to be treated with care.  These include timing, simplifying the message, and actively using your advertising channels.

Final Thoughts:

Now that we have gone through Ozgur Alaz’s 7 steps for social media crisis management, I leave you to be the judge of these two social media crises listed below.



A waitress posted this picture and was later fired for violating one of AppleBee’s rules.  AppleBee’s was ridiculed for firing this waitress; they defended their decision to the end, which did not help them at all.



An employee accidentally posted this on the company’s twitter account; the head of KitchenAid brand sincerely apologized and explained what happened.  This honesty was a plus for the brand.

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