When negative opinions are shared on social media, corporations can quickly feel the backlash. A single tweet directed at a company can go viral on the Internet in a matter of hours. Overnight, your brand’s health can take massive hits. That’s why adopting effective social media crisis management strategies is crucial for any company. In honor of Social Media Day, which is celebrated nationally and internationally on the 30th of June each year, we’ve taken a look at the best social media crisis management cases we’ve seen so far this year.

Social Media Crisis #1: Nike and Zion Williamson

On the 20th of February, Zion Williamson, a star player from Duke University, suffered a knee injury when a malfunctioning Nike shoe fell apart. This accident happened less than a minute into a highly-anticipated game against North Carolina.

Zion Williamson Shoe

Media outlets and social media users quickly began talking. ESPN had broadcasted the game nationally. On Twitter, former President Barack Obama, who was watching the game courtside, expressed his well-wishes to Williamson, as did NBA giants like LeBron James.

social media crisis management obama

social media crisis management lebron james

How Did Nike Respond?

This accident was so high-profile that Nike stock dropped 1.8% the following day. Nike soon released a statement expressing its concern and well wishes for Williamson. The footwear megabrand reassured the world that its teams were “working to identify the issue.”

The following day, Nike sent a team to Durham, North Carolina where the game took place. This team then visited Nike’s manufacturing site in China and returned with numerous suggestions.

About a month later, Williamson returned to the court with custom shoes, which he told reporters were “incredible.” He thanked Nike for creating them.

Zion Williamson New Nikes

A good crisis management strategy is timely, compassionate, and proactive. In this scenario, Nike responded with immediate concern. The company demonstrated its commitment to improvement by sending a team to rectify the situation and create a new pair of shoes.

Social Media Crisis #2: Sephora and SZA

In April 2019, hit singer SZA tweeted that a Sephora employee had called security on her to prevent shoplifting.

social media crisis management sephora sza

Social media users, primarily on Twitter, were quick to defend SZA. Some called the employee disrespectful, while others accused the employee of racial profiling.

Sephora twitter backlash

How Did Sephora Respond?

As the conversation started heating up, Sephora responded directly to SZA’s original tweet. The tweets expressed the company’s apologies and thanked the singer for bringing the problem to their attention.

social media crisis management sephora response 1

social media crisis management sephora response 2

About a month after this social media firestorm, Sephora announced on Facebook that all stores and offices would close for an hour of centralized diversity training. Although it is unclear whether the training session is related to this incident, this is nonetheless a proactive step toward both diversity and crisis management.

At its heart, crisis management is about reaching your audience and consumers. When the time calls for it, don’t be afraid to use social media to address your audience. In fact, Sephora’s direct response to SZA’s tweet demonstrated that its team was paying close attention to what people were saying online.

Notice how Facebook was the platform of choice for Sephora’s official statement. Sharing on social media platforms humanizes your brand and signals to the world that you are ready for a conversation. The cosmetics and skincare retailer used social media to its advantage as a tool for crisis management. 

Social Media Crisis #3: Gucci’s Balaclava Sweater

Early this year, one of Gucci’s sweaters received sudden backlash for its resemblance to blackface. Although the item officially launched months earlier, the crisis arose suddenly on Twitter and spread everywhere.

social media crisis management gucci sweater

How Did Gucci Respond?

Gucci quickly removed the sweater from its website and store shelves. The luxury brand posted an official statement on its Twitter account, apologizing for the offense. The company humbly referred to the incident as a “powerful learning moment.”

Gucci’s statement affirmed its dedication to diversity and awareness. About a month after the crisis, it announced its plans to launch global scholarship programs in Ghana, Nigeria, Mexico, New York, and other global locations. Gucci has also created an advisory panel that includes supermodel Naomi Campbell, activists, and academics. The company is now looking for a director of diversity and inclusion.

When it comes to sensitive topics like this scenario, a good social media crisis management strategy is especially important. Companies have to demonstrate their dedication to improvement through concrete actions. Consumers have to see that measures for preventing future offenses are underway. Brands also have to make sure that their statements are effectively reaching the public through social media.

What Can Help Your Social Media Crisis Management Strategy?

Many media firestorms begin on social media platforms, such as Twitter or Facebook. That’s why it’s important to carefully manage what’s being said about your company. Using a social listening tool can help you monitor and minimize the impact of bad press and negative sentiment. Choosing the best way to respond to a crisis involves properly gauging both the social media landscape and media outlet coverage. Learn how to create a social media crisis management plan in 4 easy steps.

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