How to handle a crisis on social media

Social media can be a game-changer for brands to go viral overnight. However, it can also be a double-edged sword. When your social media handle works well, it can aid you to forge a rock-solid customer relationship that promotes brand loyalty. However, when your brand dives down from a beloved internet meme to the target of blazing user outrage, it’s high time for an efficacious crisis management plan. No, matter how cautious you are with your content, there’s no denying that the internet audience can be mean at times. A social media crisis always has the potential to strike, which calls for the need for a reputed social media marketing agency.

But first, what is a social media crisis?

Social media crisis can be defined as any activity on social media platforms that might atrociously impact your brand’s reputation. In a nutshell, a social media crisis is more than the odd rude comments or complaints from customers. A crisis happens when any social media activity spurs a barrage of negative responses, or worse, calls for a boycott, or any other negative long-term consequences for your brand.

Examples of Social Media Crises:

  • Out-of-touch or insensitive comments like the recent poorly received post from Burger King posted on International Women’s Day that was a cheeky take on an old, sexist phrase.
  • Hypocritical posts like the ones from American Airlines’ rainbow-washed tweet inspired angry reactions from the LGBTQ community.
  • Awkward customer service interactions or poor employee behaviour might also be screenshotted and go viral.
  • Public backlash due to product failures or customer dissatisfaction.

How to Manage a Social Media Crisis?

Every brand needs a social media crisis management plan to stay on the top of their game when the tide turns and they start receiving mass criticism. A crisis management plan from a professional social media marketing agency can help you to keep a level head at the moment of any crisis. Wondering how to manage a crisis on your social media handle? Here are some tips from the industry experts:

  • For one, you need to ensure what identifies as a crisis. Every time you see disgruntled customer tags, you don’t have to prepare your arrows in the quiver for a full-blown crisis. However, it is crucial to recognize an issue before it escalates too far. You should discuss with your team and set up parameters for what should be flagged as a potential crisis so that you can craft a response strategy accordingly.
  • When you flag a potential crisis circumstance, pause all your scheduled posts and advertising campaigns. Until you are ready to reply, don’t because there’s nothing worse than appearing salesy or insensitive when the moment calls for a tactful response.
  • Take a quick beat to read the room and assess the impact. If the crisis is happening on a larger scale, consider all the possible implications and ensure to offer a timely response.
  • To nip things in the bud, keep an eye out for the mentions and notifications while creating prompt actionable steps for every social media crisis.
  • Create a sustainable social media policy that includes copyright guidelines, privacy guidelines, confidentiality guidelines, brand voice guidelines, and more so that you know what to share, what to encourage, and what should be kept under wraps.

Have a crisis communication plan, so that instead of waiting for your managers to weigh in or debating about handling this, you take critical crisis management steps promptly.

  • After you are done with managing the crisis, ensure to adopt a good defence to mitigate the offence. Adopt social listening and monitor brand mentions as well as social sentiments to capture how people feel about your brand after the crisis.

Spoiler alert!

Be prepared for a worst-case scenario before it happens. Have a solid plan in hand with a seasoned social media marketing agency. Prepare a strategy with a list of key stakeholders and responsibilities integrated with a clear chain of command. Thus, when worse comes to worst, you will be well-positioned with a social media crisis management plan to turn your brand’s reputation around.  


1. What are the four steps of social media crisis planning?

The four stages of social media crisis management include readiness, response, reassurance and recovery.

2. Is ORM included with your social media marketing strategy?

Yes, ORM is included in the social media marketing plan.

3. How to deal with social media backlash?

By following the social media crisis examples of 2022, dealing with social media backlash requires a multifaceted approach. For one, you have to step into your user’s shoes before you react, Acknowledge the issues raises as soon as possible, and document the negative comments with empathy.

4. Does a social media marketing strategy also involves crisis management?

Yes, a social media marketing strategy also involves crisis management and communication for brands.

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