avoiding content decline

This we all know to be true: Folks on social media love to get their knickers in a twist. Chances are, someone, at some point in time, is going to take exception to something your company has done or said. And they'll air those complaints on your Facebook page or take you to task on Twitter. If it hasn't happened yet, it will. Trust us. When it does happen, here are some guidelines on handling it with poise.

Have a crisis communication plan. Please, please, please have a social media crisis communication plan. Get this done in the clear light of day, so the junior employee operating the switch knows what to do when the stuff hits the fan, and your Head of Social Media is on vacation in Costa Rica. (If you need help developing this, we can help.) Respond quickly. Ignoring the problem doesn't make it go away. And the sooner you react, the better. That could mean deleting the post. Or issuing an apology. Or correcting the errant information. Or simply acknowledging the problem and letting your followers know you're working on the fix. Whatever response you determine is correct, reach that decision as soon as possible and make it.

Employ social listening to identify potential problems. This can help you spot a developing issue on social media well before it turns into a crisis. Social media has evolved into one of the best bellwethers companies can have to monitor brand sentiment.

Engage. This shows you care about public sentiment. Develop key phrases ahead of time (see crisis communication plan.) Helpful hints: keep it short. Don't argue. Don't insult. (Unless your Wendy's, in which case, roasting people on social media is what you do.) Try to move the communication into DM's, email, or even a phone call. Pause your scheduled posts. If your feed is being consumed by crisis, you don't want posts that were scheduled a month ago showing up in the middle of the conflagration.

Secure your accounts. We've all seen commercial accounts get hacked by ne'er-do-wells. Make sure your cyber security is air-tight and protect those passwords.

Do a post-mortem. After the crisis has abated, go back and look at the experience. What went well? What can you do better next time? Update your crisis communication plans and social media policies accordingly.

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