Posted: Feb 2, 2018
Categories: Marketing, Social Media
Comments: 0

5 Steps to Take During a Social Media Crisis

[Editor's Note: This article was previously published on “Anthem”, the online News & Info site of the Northwest Credit Union Association, and has been modified.]

Today, the consensus is that it is integral for you to have a strong online presence if you want to build a strong brand. With so much information being consumed online, it is almost impossible to build a brand without incorporating social media, a blog and/or a website into your content marketing strategy. According to a blog post on, statistics show that “53% of Americans who follow brands on social media are more loyal to those brands; 71% of consumers who have a good social media service experience with a brand are likely to recommend it to others and 33% of people prefer to contact a company through social media as opposed to by phone.”

In fact, many of your existing clients, and your potential clients, searched for your credit union and were first introduced to your brand online. In an article titled “Your Credit Union Brand’s New Front Door”, Callahan & Associates’ Director of Marketing & Engagement, Alexandra Gekas Selby explored the reality that your branch is no longer the first introduction to your brand. Despite this, many credit unions do not have a strong online presence.  You may be thinking “I have a website where members can login and manage their accounts through online banking and potential members can get information on my great rates, products and services. What more do I need?” But today, much more is needed. So, for many, there is a lack of awareness, but for some it is a shortage of resources and for others, it is a fear of the risk of exposing their brands to the scary online space. This is a legitimate fear but what is even more scary is not being involved in the online space and having no awareness or power to respond if your brand is being portrayed negatively there.

Having said that, at the REACH 2017 Conference, Sasha Strauss, Founder of Innovation Protocol, acknowledged this fear when he said, “There is an old saying that the pen is mightier than the sword – today that is, the click is mightier than a bomb.” There is no statement truer as it relates to the broadcasting power that we all have in the age of the worldwide web and social media. Many of us are our own community or regional news network or have a friend, connection or follower who is. So, the fear is real and totally understandable.

How do you handle the not so good or horrific days when a discriminatory video, offensive photo or negative comment is posted and your clients and/or potential clients are responding negatively on your social media page? If you followed the links above, you would observe that we have some occurrences over the past couple of months that we can use as case studies within our own industry. These examples are clear indications of what can go wrong when we choose to participate in the online space but these incidents can also present an opportunity for your CU to highlight what it stands for or represent. Notably, there seems to be a formula for communicating whenever there is a breach, but it is also just as important to have a formula or game plan to handle social media crises in order to maintain the reputation of your brand. So, where do I start with this game plan, you ask?


Social media crisis game plan

Always respond

Respond to all comments whether they are positive or negative, and do so in a timely manner. Don’t forget to thank the writer for their feedback. If the comment is negative, offer to handle the issue offline after thanking and apologizing to them. Remember that he/she gave you an opportunity to resolve the situation rather than taking their business to your competitor. Also, by handling the issue offline, you are minimizing a public display of comments going back and forth.

Follow-up with a resolution

If you make a promise to resolve the issue you must follow through. Be sure to get the right people involved so that things can be resolved effectively and immediately. The last thing you want is a crisis that goes unresolved indefinitely or falls through the cracks.

Apologize publicly using the same channel

How you respond to the crisis is far more important than the crisis itself. Acknowledging and apologizing publicly, as well as stating how the incident was or will be handled gives you an opportunity to reiterate what your brand stands for. Use this opportunity to focus on your members, what is important to them and how you solve their pain points. This is not a time for invaluable advertising.

Maintain … Maintain … Maintain

Having a person or system dedicated to managing and monitoring your online presence is key. Without proper maintenance of your sites/platforms you will not be able to catch the crises early and ‘nip them in the bud’.

Make the necessary internal changes

Oftentimes the silver lining behind crises is that you get to improve an internal function that was not optimal. Maybe you did not have a social media or crisis communication policy in place or maybe you did not have someone whose primary focus was on managing your online presence. Whatever it is, use the experience to identify the weak areas and make improvements.

Of course, being able to respond, diffuse negativity and take advantage of a possible opportunity for your CU to shine requires having someone or a system dedicated to monitoring and managing your online presence. Also, if you decide to be online, you must commit to being an active participant; meaning posting value-added content consistently and interacting with your audience. Your consistent presence and activity helps to build your reputation, which comes in handy during a crises as loyal fans often ‘run’ to your defense and help to balance the negativity.

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Shelly-Ann Wilson Henry

Shelly-Ann Wilson HenryShelly-Ann Wilson Henry

In her role as PR & Communications Manager, Shelly-Ann plays a critical role in the development, distribution and management of the content that supports Trellance’s thought leadership agenda.

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