Don’t Panic! Crisis Management in the Social Media Era

Afraid of fighting a social media firestorm?

Photo courtesy of Haysels, Flickr

Let’s face it: many businesses are afraid to get on social media because they are afraid of things going wrong.

And they do go wrong.

Sometimes even the best-intentioned Tweet will be misinterpreted and before you know it a firestorm has blown up.

(A few weeks ago that happened to the Dean of the Harvard Business School. I got into a lively debate about it on the Fortune/CNN Money website. Read the comments. I got in one of my best zingers ever!)

Today’s show guest, Dr. Alison Konrad, thought companies had a challenge with the pace of change and crisis management these days, but then she started chatting with firefighters.

Now they have to deal with change and crisis!

Their working conditions change minute by minute when they are fighting a fire and the consequences of mistakes are a lot worse than embarrassment.

Lessons From Firefighters

Dr. Alison Konrad

Dr. Alison Konrad

In our interview Dr. Konrad, who will be speaking at the Conference Board of Canada’s Change Management 2014 conference, May 5 & 6, talks about some of the lessons we can learn from firefighters to prepare ourselves for social media flare-ups.

Social Media Crisis Prep

A few key lessons from the firefighters will work equally well for your business:

1. Prepare

Make it clear in advance what your expectations are, have some standard approaches, discuss what types of language you will use.

2. Practice

There’s a reason they made us do fire drills in grade school. If you’ve run through some worst case scenarios in advance you are less likely to panic if a real crisis hits. Peter Aceto, CEO of ING Direct, discussed this in our interview.

3. Be Flexible

Having done the preparation and the practice, you will have an easier time being flexible and adapting to the situation as it evolves. Your team will all be approaching the problem from a similar vantage point.

Do you have any other tips for social media crisis management?

If so, please share them in the comments section below!

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