Social Media in Times of Crisis


Arielle Reyes

Apr 14, 2020


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Social Media

Can you name one thing all businesses have in common? The answer is they will eventually face some type of crisis. Though we might not like to think about, the truth of the matter is if your business stands the test of time, it will inevitably have to hold up against a crisis. The question is, are you prepared? There are 2 types of crises a business can expect - ones that affect your particular business and ones that affect all businesses. 

Newspaper with the word Crisis

An example of a crisis that affects a single business is one that is often referred to as a “PR nightmare”. They can be caused internally by an employee of the company, or an external individual might bring to light something like poor treatment during a customer service interaction. Remember when the founder of LifeLock had his identity stolen? The company boasted that their product was superior when it comes to protecting your identity from being stolen. To prove their point the founder, Todd Davis, gave out his social security number. Unfortunately, this backfired and he ended up having his identity stolen a whopping 13 times. Did this build trust in the product? Definitely not. If this situation happened today, with social media in full swing, they may have had to deal with tons of backlash.

Examples of crises that affected numerous businesses in modern times include a natural disaster, economic crisis, or a pandemic. These include Hurricane Katrina, the great recession, and the COVID-19 pandemic. Hurricane Katrina affected the South, particularly the state of Louisiana. The great recession affected businesses in America, while COVID-19 was a worldwide pandemic that affected every country in the world. 

Why Should I Use Social Media During a Crisis?

Social Media Channels

No business is untouchable, especially if you are a small business. Even if your business is thriving today, an unexpected crisis can easily uproot your world and put your business in a state of frenzy. Instead of going into panic mode, developing communication strategies that include a social media crisis plan beforehand will help to ease tension.

It’s not easy for businesses to stay quiet in today’s technologically advanced world. This is in great part due to the rise of social media. Businesses are expected to communicate with their customers, provide social customer service, and be in tune with what’s going on around them. 

Need more of a reason? Today, more than 3.8 billion people in the world use social media. To narrow it down, Around seven-in-ten U.S. adults (69%) use Facebook. More importantly, social media is beginning to replace time that used to be spent with traditional forms of media. Social media is a fast and efficient way to get your message out to your customers during times of crisis. 

Social Media in Times of Crisis

Developing a social media plan for times of crisis is an action any business can take today. Here are some tips to succeed during uncertain times:

  1. Social Media. First and foremost, decide which social media platforms you want to use to communicate with your audience and customers. In general, all social media channels you’re currently using to communicate with your customers is probably the best place to start, and what you should likely stick to. And remember, just because a social channel is popular, is it really an appropriate platform to conduct crisis communications for your business? 
  2. Crafting your Message. When deciding how to get your message across, remember that times of crises can be stressful. Make sure to have several different employees read through your message and play devil’s advocate so that you can discover right away if your message is too insensitive or could possibly be taken the wrong way by the public.  
  3. Share Information. Don’t get stuck just sharing information about your business and do not attempt to capitalize on the crisis in a negative way. Take this time to also share useful information and resources that could help your customers. 
  4. Monitor Social. You’ll need to monitor social media more than ever before during a crisis. Keep an eye out for any mention of your business on all pertinent social media channels and develop appropriate responses. Make sure to pick your battles, as you don’t necessarily need to respond to every single mention that you see. If it’s a larger crisis, it’s a good idea to monitor what is trending online. 
  5. Help if You Can. If there is a way for your business to help during a crisis, it’s a good idea to consider it. Think about ways your business could provide help to your community, especially those who might be most vulnerable and highly affected. During the COVID-19 pandemic, local hotels were able to volunteer their rooms to help shelter the homeless population. People weren’t traveling during this time and hotels had the empty rooms, so it was a natural pairing. 
Monitor Social Media

Navigating your business during a crisis won’t be easy. There are many aspects to consider, and brainstorming about them ahead of time can help you tackle the situation a little more smoothly. During a crisis, make sure you’re prepared with a social media strategy and don’t forget to communicate any pertinent information for your customers and clients and your custom small business website.

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