To wrap up my series on crisis response strategies, I want to revisit the beginning. Some organizations look on crisis response as sort of a fire extinguisher—something you activate when an emergency happens. Truth is you can lessen the impact of any crisis by just having the right elements in place up front.
When doing research for the e-book Listen, Engage, Respond, I found that across the sectors I surveyed, the same five elements were constant. Successful organizations had them, unsuccessful (or unprepared) ones did not. Get your organization ready now. These five elements will not only help you in a crisis, but they are the best practices of organizations that use social media well on an everyday basis.
1. Implement a social media monitoring dashboard. A listening system can help keep track of what is being said about your institution in the social media universe, alert you to issues you may not be aware of, and help you gauge public understanding and sentiment around an issue. Here is a list of possible listening systems at several price points.
2. Develop a social media policy. There is a misunderstanding that a social media policy is a prohibitive document. The best social media policies operate as guide rails that empower people to use social media channels responsibly in a way that builds the organization’s brand. The last piece in my series on response strategies outlined how to set up a flexible social media policy that works well in a crisis.
3. Implement a social media management system (SMMS). Social media management systems should have multiple functions that can facilitate monitoring, publishing, lead and conversion tracking, measurement, customer relationship management, and more depending on what your institution’s social media strategy is. Here is a good slide deck on how to pick one out with some recommendations from Jeremiah Owyang.
4. Establish registration or affiliation of organizational social media accounts. Develop a training program or guidelines for anyone representing the organization in the social media space. Also, establish a database of account administrators and passwords held by a community manager. This allows you to remove old accounts, or post to any account in an emergency.
5. Establish a community manager for your social media. This does not imply that one person should handle all the social media, but that there should be a centralized resource that acts as a hub to the department “spokes” so there is continuity in branding and messaging, especially in the event of a crisis. A community manager will keep communication channels open and discourage the building of communication silos within the organization.