Social media is an integral part of any modern businesses communication tools. It’s a way to engage with current or prospective clients. It is also a great way to gauge how people are feeling about your business specifically or your industry as a whole. When something heats up on social media, communication can go viral very quickly. By setting up effective social listening, you can be sure that you are never taken by surprise. To get started, incorporate all of the following:
1. Decide what you are listening for.
Are you listening so you can be alerted immediately when someone has a problem with your products or services? Are you looking to hear about issues throughout your industry? Are you listening so that your communications teams don’t step on feet when they decide to join the conversation?
Different objectives will mean different channels and different keywords. Defining what you are looking for is the key to making sure that you do not miss something important.
2. Put someone in charge of the task.
When something is everyone’s responsibility, that really makes it no one’s job. By having a specific team member who is in charge of looking at and analyzing what your listening tools find, you can be sure that you will catch the information that you need as soon as possible.
In some cases, a person or people who are already in-house and dealing with social media can make this part of their duties. In others, this is a job that is best handled by outside agencies who specialize in dealing with social listening and crisis communications.
Whoever you choose, make sure that this is not a job given to the most junior member of your staff. Social media can have a serious impact on your business. You need to have someone knowledgeable and experienced on the job who can recognize trouble viewing before you have a full-blown crisis.
3. Choose your channels.
Where are the people you wish to listen to likely to hang out online? If you work largely in the B2B sphere, for instance, you should be using listening tools on platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter and Quora. However, consumer-facing businesses are most likely to find the conversations they want on platforms that include Facebook, Instagram, SnapChat, and Pinterest.
Since social listening is largely passive, it’s best to cast your net wide at this point. Even if you do not have an active presence on a platform, most of the social media monitoring tools available will be able to help you get the information you need
4. Choose what you will monitor and how you will prioritize.
Social media conversations happen across a wealth of channels 24 hours a day. Picking out the right signals can go a long way toward separating what’s important from the background noise.
In most cases, mentions of your company’s name and posts that tag your business should be given high priority. In addition to those, you can also listen for names of your products, names of key public-facing personnel and the names of competitors or generic words for products and services in your industry.
While most social channels have tools built in to help with listening, these will often not be robust enough on their own. Additionally, you can save a significant amount of time by using a single social media software tool to listen to several channels passively and aggregate the results.
5. Listen before you speak.
Once you’ve identified the most active channels for your audience, take some time to analyze what people talk about there and how. Many brands get into trouble by jumping into the conversation before they truly understand it. By taking the time to get to know the channel and its lingo and traditions, you can make sure that any contribution you make here will be well-received.
This isn’t just a key strategy for crisis communications. It is also vital for avoiding social media dust-ups in the first place. Sometimes, a brand will get into trouble by accidentally posting the wrong thing at the wrong time. Making sure that the people who will communicate with your audience understand the channels they are using can help you avoid that.
6. Decide what will trigger a response.
When a crisis occurs, the worst thing you can do is respond inappropriately. Work with an expert in crisis communications to identify potential problems and to decide how they will be handled when they come up.
By engaging in planning and rehearsals, you can be ready for any social media issue before it happens. This means a faster response and a chance to maintain stakeholders’ trust.
7. Plan for the small issues before they become big ones.
Research shows that people are more and more likely to tag a company on social media when they have a problem. However, if you don’t have a plan to get a customer with a service issue to the right person quickly enough, a small issue can turn into a big PR nightmare.
Many companies make the error of only periodically responding to customer service requests made through social media. Often, these come weeks or months after a client problem. In many cases, it’s enough time for your customer to decide that they’d rather do business with someone else.
To make sure that doesn’t happen to you, you should have a way to get to these types of queries on a regular basis. Either have a specific social media profile for customer service personnel or have a prepared response that can be used to direct people to the right person to help.
With your social media monitoring in place, your reputation command center has the tools they need to detect problems before they start. Periodically revisit and revamp social network choices, listening tools and criteria to make sure that you are always using the right mix to get you the results that you want. By having an effective system in place, you can nip social media crises in the bud and maintain a positive reputation both online and off.
Can we help you?
Building an effective crisis management process that incorporates crisis management, crisis communications, and other functions within your firm is what we do here at Bryghtpath. Such a process can help you weather the storm when you encounter a significant issue.
Bryghtpath has built the crisis management plans and frameworks for many Fortune 500 organizations, non-profits, and public sector agencies. Our firm has more than a century of experience in developing actionable plans to help prepare organizations for the unexpected. Our expertise includes crisis communications and emergency plans/exercises.
Contact us today at +1.612.235.6435 or via our contact form.