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social media in crisis communications plan

Don’t shoot the canary in your coalmine

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Some people grumble that the advent of social media has increased the risk of bad publicity for businesses because it only takes one grumpy customer with a smart phone and an Instagram following to create a damaging pile on.

While this is true to an extent, it ignores one of the major benefits of social media.

That is, complaints, negative comments and bad reviews on social media are free market research for businesses who may otherwise be oblivious to problems at customer level.

Twitter’s little blue bird really should be bright yellow, because it is like a canary in a coal mine. It is very easy for businesses to monitor the canary, identify emerging problems and fix them before they become costly.

So if a canary in your coal mine starts tweeting negatively, don’t complain about unfair damage to your brand reputation. Instead, listen, be grateful and do something about it before it explodes and turns into a communication nightmare.

What if the complaint is totally unfounded or unreasonable? Well, some battles just aren’t worth fighting. You should respond respectfully, demonstrate your great track record, bust any myths and move on with your day.

And don’t forget what it was like in the “old days” when you were 100% beholden to the traditional media in a crisis. After a lengthy media conference, you would hope and pray that the media used just one grab to tell your side of the story.

Don’t get me wrong, traditional media is still very important and powerful, but social media allows you to communicate to your stakeholders directly, in full and unfiltered.

You just have to make sure your message is transparent, authentic and relevant to those at the coalface.

For a well prepared response, you’ll do well to include social media into your crisis communications plan – being prepared means you’ll hit the ground running when a crisis hits. If you need help with your communication strategy or communication plan, start a conversation if our team today.

The Resilience Digest