Crises happen, that’s a fact. This is why almost every company has a crisis communications plan that is always ready to go as soon as it’s necessary. A crisis can be incredibly hard to manage when you are in charge of communications at a company, however, when you work at an agency and it’s one of your (many) clients that is going through a crisis, it can be near impossible to manage. So what can you do to make sure that you provide your clients with the best crisis communications that they need? The answer is a simple one: let social media, and specifically, Social Data be your biggest defense mechanism.
Set Up Alerts
If you’ve read any of my previous crisis communications related posts you’ll know that the one common thread in every crisis is to set up alerts on your Social Listening platform that will help you get ahead of a social crisis before it picks up too much steam. This is because it is imperative that you are alerted in real-time when there is a major increase in volume and a major shift in sentiment, both of which are clear signs of an impending social crisis (or that one is already happening). However, as important as this is when you are working in-house at a brand, I can’t stress the importance of having alerts set up for these specific moments when you work at an agency.
Having worked at multiple agencies in my career, I know how it can happen. You’re working on a major deadline for one of your multiple clients and therefore aren’t regularly monitoring Social Media for mentions of your other clients when you get a frantic call from your manager or client that something is very wrong. However, if you had alerts set up that could detect major shifts in sentiment or in volume, then you’d already know that it’s time to switch your focus and start opening up your crisis communications playbook. Timing is everything when it comes to managing a social crisis, and the earlier you can start your crisis communications protocol, the better shape your clients will be in, and the quicker you’ll be able to get a hold of your client’s crisis and properly manage it for them.
Influence The Influencers
Identifying and interacting with online influencers is important for your clients regularly, but during a crisis it becomes something necessary. Influencers are the people that your audience trusts, so if you can manage to appease your influencers amidst a crisis then they will be able to help let your audience know that everything is, and will be, fine. This is why using your Social Listening platform to identify influencers is an important part of your crisis communications playbook. However, it is the part that needs to be ongoing and even when there isn’t a crisis.
If you want to be able to influence one of your clients’ influencers during a crisis, then you need to be reaching out to them when everything is fine and build a relationship before the crisis hits. Social Listening tools can help you build influencer panels that are based on many different variables, including reach, interactions data and audience size. In fact, you might discover that you will have different influencers for different audience segments for your customers. When you build the relationship with your clients’ influencers you will be able to better interact with them during a crisis and know how to get them on your side and arm them with messaging and information that will appease their audience. Your client’s influencers can be your strongest tools in your crisis communications strategy, but you have to properly manage them in order to get the most out of them.
Transparent Reporting With Your Client
Every agency professional who has been through a client crisis knows that when the crisis is finally over, your work isn’t at all. Your clients will want to know what happened, how it happened, what you did and what the current status is. This is why you need to have a good Social Media reporting tool. A good Social Listening platform will allow you to create a report that uses all of the data that can be found within all of the widgets in your platform, however, it will create it in an easy-to-read and understand way. This means that you can quickly create a report that can give your client information about the crisis like:
- The Timeline
- Most Shared Posts
- Most Shared URLs
- Most Used Hashtag
- Word Cloud
- Sentiment Changes
Being able to share information like this will truly impress your client as they will appreciate a complete understanding of what happened, and it can be used for you and your client to work together to make sure that another similar crisis doesn’t happen again.
If you want to learn more about managing and preparing your crisis communications plans, or how Synthesio can help you with them for your clients, check out our eBook on preparing for a social crisis.