Sunday, August 9, 2015

Do Not Kill Your Business; Learn How To Handle Social Media Crisis.






Voluminous businesses and organizations whether public or private have frequently faced tough times in handling crisis most especially when it has made its way to the social media platforms. The imagination of crisis and negative feedback are some of the outstanding reasons for shunning Social Media by many private and public organizations. The fact is that whether you are on social media or not, Crisis is bound to happen at one point or another. To your disbelief, you might think the crisis facing your organization has subsisted the rough treatment and mammoth criticism of the social media fraternity; but to your dismay the same crisis story finds its way into the media (magazines, newspapers, Television and Radio News).

The most important thing during crisis is how your organization handles and responds to the crisis. Whether the disaster at hand affected an individual or the general public who directly or indirectly consume your commodities and services, it’s not about how many people, but about how  fast and quickly your response is to avoid causing more damage to the reputation of the organization. I remember writing an article in a Ugandan Weekly observer newspaper http://www.observer.ug/viewpoint/37753-nwsc-using-social-media-to-good-effect explaining how open communication has helped greatly improve services at the National Water and Sewerage Corporation in Uganda. This same organization has so many times faced hard-hitting situations while delivering clean water services in Uganda like the Water shortage that hit Kisasi area, a Kampala suburb, trickle of former Prime Ministers water bill to the media and the Typhoid outbreak in Kampala and many more.


I intentionally chose a practical example of an organization that I have keenly followed for pretty a good time so that many other businesses can emulate their example and even perform better. National Water and Sewerage Corporation consistently and openly takes to social media to address hard-hitting situations so as to clear the air but most importantly to restore hope in those that have been affected by the crisis at hand.
Having clearly identified an organization that  you can benchmark your business social media activity whether in Africa or world over, Let me now focus on the nucleus of this article by indicating the Steps that an organization can follow to safely handle a social media crisis;


2.        In order to handle Crisis, be willing to listen to what the complaints are before reacting. Avoid misfiring on Social Media. During the conversation, endeavor to listen carefully to what the complainant considers poor service delivery so that a proper report can be sent to those in charge to follow up with the matter.

3.       Ensure communication to the management as soon as the complainant has provided information about their point of dissatisfaction with the services. The Corporate Relations or Legal Department comes in at this level so as to clearly take a stand point on the situation. This can be done through an official statement that can be shared through the organization’s media houses and Social media accounts.

4.      For organizations  that do not have in-house operation of their social media accounts, it’s very important to let the third party operator know that any social media updates relating the crisis must be approved before posting the to any social media platform.

5.      Do not halt updates on your social media platforms regarding other activities simply because there is a crisis at hand. Intentionally post usual updates to your social media time lines as this slowly but steadily phases out the heat of the crisis.

6.       Its mandatory to keep the affected party(ies) in check so as to provide updates on how far the situation is being handled. This will limit more posts from the affected clients and service consumers from posting more damaging content on the organization’s time lines.

7.       Once the crisis has been solved and the Public Relations team is ready to communicate to their clients, always ensure that the communication is passed out to as many channels as possible and indicating that the organization regrets the inconveniences caused to their esteemed customers.

8.      Now that you know there is no organization that predicts when a social media crisis will happen, it’s key to learn and put measures in place that can quickly and efficiently handle any crisis that happens in the future.  

Organizations always need to remember that Social Media communication can devastatingly damage the company image and reputation if not carefully handled and dealt with. Whether using a contracted party or staff to run the Social Media platforms, it is advisable to keep them in-house for quicker and faster responses during the crisis time. The above steps are applicable for all businesses whether a small scale start-up or a mega well established business. 

By Mwebya Fred

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