Developing a Social Media Crisis Checklist


By Rachel Peck

If the past few months have taught us anything, it’s that you can never be too prepared when it comes to internal and external communications. While many organizations are reevaluating their crisis communications, some might believe they don’t need to prioritize their social media. However, this isn’t the case. For many businesses, social media is often the first touchpoint they have with current and potential customers and therefore, should be top of mind when it comes to managing any internal or external crisis.

Develop a social media policy
Just like you would set brand guidelines, or an employee handbook, and develop those over time, you should do the same for your social media. Set up guidelines for types of content used, language and emojis. Additionally, you should beware of violating any copyright policies and take privacy into account. When do you interact with an irate customer through the comments section versus taking the conversation into a private chat? Do you even engage with negative feedback publicly at all? These are just a few of the questions brands should ask themselves when developing these policies, as they will help you navigate sensitive and challenging messaging.

Set up your checklist
Once you have policies in place, you should be proactive in mitigating any potential risks. In the social media world, a situation can turn from bad to worse within seconds. Your checklist should include shutting off all scheduled posts, so as not to be tone deaf or post anything that could be considered inappropriate. Communicate internally with staff and make sure everyone understands their role in handling the crisis. Identify your key messaging, during the crisis, as well as pre-determine what channels it will be disseminated on.

Evaluate and adjust
A crisis, no matter what size, is always a good opportunity to learn and grow. Once the dust settles, gather your team and discuss what worked, what didn’t work – if there were any surprises. Evaluate each step of your plan and each checklist item. Where are the opportunities for improvement? What follow-up is needed with your audience? Adjust what you need and recognize what worked best.

So far, 2020 has offered numerous opportunities for brands to hone their crisis communication plans and execute them. With internal communication and brand positioning more important than ever, if you haven’t internally discussed a social media crisis strategy, now is the time to evaluate and implement your checklist.

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