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Navigating A Digital Crisis

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Navigating A Digital Crisis

Marketing can be finicky, especially in the digital world, where changes happen fast, as can the expectations of viewers. Through ill-conceived creative, poor decisions or a misconstrued statement a storm can brew, putting your businesses future on the line. So what do you do if an issue arises, and how do you plan a management strategy? 

In this guide, Navigate A Digital Crisis, Jane Hayes Consulting delves into the essential components of effective digital marketing crisis management. We will look at social listening, proactive planning, the importance of timely communication and what not to do if you and your business find yourselves in a difficult situation. 


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1. Proactive Planning:

Avoid being reactionary and proactively plan. Social media, though so vital for businesses, can be volatile by nature. The temperature in the room can change in an instant, so it’s important that you have a plan in place in the instance an issue occurs. How do you do this?

Think ahead and create a comprehensive risk assessment, anticipate possible scenarios, and have a well-versed brand advocate and trained team who are empowered to strike if a potential issue occurs. Be sure to have detailed quality controls in place, easy access to documents and a lawyer on hand to assist if there are legal challenges. Plan how you will communicate with stakeholders, customers and the general public and test your plan for ease of mind.


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2. Social Listening:

Social listening is a crucial tool for businesses in many respects, from understanding brand awareness to perception and to those seeking to navigate and manage a crisis effectively. Social listening involves actively monitoring and analysing social media content to better connect with and know the temperature of audiences, plan product development and understand the movements of your industry.

Utilising social listening tools will allow you to monitor mentions, hashtags, and keywords in real-time, enabling early detection of a potential crisis. Identify shifts in sentiment, spikes in negative mentions, or the escalation of specific issues before they become widespread or when you are in the midst of managing a crisis.


Social Listening Tools:

7. Socialbakers

8. Sysomos

11. Awario


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3. Transparent and Timely Communication:

We’ve seen this scenario play out countless times: a brand has a less than staller moment and fails to handle the situation. They go quiet, turn off comments, and/or delay responding to public outcry, enabling their audience to jump to their own conclusions. These conclusions, in time, turn into a gospel which can end a brand. If your brand encounters a crisis, transparent and timely communication is paramount. Silence or delayed responses can exacerbate the situation, leading to speculation and mistrust. Craft a clear, authentic, and empathetic message acknowledging the issue and outlining the steps to address it.


Proactively share updates to keep stakeholders informed, demonstrating your commitment to resolving the crisis. If the crisis stems from a mistake or oversight on your part, offer a sincere apology. A genuine apology acknowledges the error and expresses empathy, demonstrating accountability and a commitment to making things right. Actively address concerns raised by stakeholders. Avoiding or deflecting issues can intensify negative sentiments. Engage in open and honest conversations, respond to questions, and demonstrate a genuine commitment to resolving the problem.

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4. Learn and Adapt:

If you’ve found yourself experiencing a crisis in your business or are currently planning a crisis management plan, it’s essential to assess in the aftermath. Post-crisis, conduct a thorough analysis of the events that unfolded. Identify strengths and weaknesses in your crisis management strategy to continually improve and adapt. Learning from each experience ensures that you and your team become more adept at handling future challenges. Regularly update protocols, refine communication strategies and provide ongoing training to keep the team well-prepared.

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5. What Not To Do In A Crisis:

In a digital crisis, certain actions can exacerbate the situation, escalate tensions, and damage a brand's reputation.

To navigate a crisis successfully, it's essential to avoid the following pitfalls:


Ignoring or Delaying Responses: Ignoring or delaying responses to the crisis can lead to speculation, mistrust, and increased negative sentiment. Timely acknowledgement and communication are crucial. Delayed responses may suggest indifference or incompetence, intensifying the crisis's impact.


Providing Inconsistent Information: Offering inconsistent or conflicting information across different channels creates confusion and erodes trust. Inconsistent messaging can lead to further speculation and undermine your organisation's credibility.


Engaging in Online Arguments: Engaging in heated online arguments with customers, stakeholders, or critics can escalate the situation. Arguments can be viewed negatively and damage your brand's image. Maintain a professional and calm demeanour in all interactions.


Deleting or Ignoring Negative Comments: Deleting or ignoring negative comments can be perceived as censorship or an attempt to cover up the issue. Transparency is crucial during a crisis. Deleting comments can lead to a loss of trust and credibility.


Blaming Others Without Evidence: Pointing fingers or assigning blame without clear evidence can exacerbate the crisis and lead to legal repercussions. Baseless accusations can harm relationships and create additional challenges. Conduct thorough investigations before attributing blame.


Being Overly Defensive: Being overly defensive in responses may come across as dismissive or insincere. It's important to acknowledge concerns and show empathy. Defensiveness can alienate stakeholders and hinder effective communication.


Neglecting Internal Communication: Neglecting to communicate internally can result in misinformation and uninformed employees. Employees are key ambassadors for your brand. Keeping them informed ensures that they can respond appropriately and consistently externally.


Downplaying the Severity of the Crisis: Downplaying the severity of the crisis may lead to a lack of urgency in addressing the issue. Acknowledge the gravity of the situation and communicate the steps being taken to resolve it. Downplaying can be perceived as insensitivity.


Misusing Automated Responses: Relying on automated responses for sensitive issues can seem robotic and insensitive. A crisis often requires a human touch; automatic responses may not adequately address the emotional nuances of the situation.


Neglecting Post-Crisis Analysis: Neglecting to conduct a thorough post-crisis analysis prevents learning and improvement. Understanding what worked well and what didn't is crucial for refining crisis management strategies and preventing similar issues in the future.


Disregarding Legal Implications: Disregarding legal implications in your responses may lead to legal complications. Consult legal experts to ensure your communications comply with regulations and do not expose the organisation to legal risks.


Assuming the Crisis Will Blow Over: Assuming that a crisis will blow over without taking proactive steps can be a risky strategy. Crises often require active management and resolution efforts. Ignoring the issue may result in prolonged damage to your brand.


Issues can arise, but with a robust crisis management plan, they can be navigated successfully. By proactively planning, monitoring in real-time, practising transparent communication, mastering social media management, and continuously learning and adapting, you and your team can steer through crises with resilience and confidence. Remember, a well-managed crisis can even become an opportunity to showcase your team's expertise and commitment to overcoming challenges.

Jane Hayes Consulting, Leading You Through The Digital World:

Jane Hayes Consulting is an independent digital marketing agency founded to help businesses create consistent, creatively aligned, and strategic content. Jane Hayes Consulting can help you put your best foot forward with our expertly crafted team covering website design and building, marketing strategy, content creation, brand creation, and project management. We work within budget restraints and look toward the future. Need assistance in developing your digital strategy and creating a business advantage? Contact Jane Hayes Consulting today and sign up for our newsletter.


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