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No brand wants to be caught off guard by bad news gone viral – and you don’t have to be. Follow these social media crisis monitoring tips and you’ll always be on top of whatever comes your brand’s way.

Don’t wait for a crisis to happen

Prevention is your best defense with a social media crisis – because once the genie is out of the bottle, it’s challenging to put back in, if you even can.

This is why social monitoring should be a daily business practice. If the first you’re hearing of something is when it’s gone viral, you’re too late. The damage is done at that point – and possibly irreversible.

Set your social monitoring tools to alert you when certain keywords are used, so you know immediately if something is brewing in the social realm.

Keep tabs on sentiment

Keywords alone aren’t enough. You’ve got to stay attuned to the emotional state of your audience. Not every negative comment is the precursor to a crisis – but you have to know the sentiment behind what’s being said to make that call.

And of course, if you can address negative feedback when it happens, you can ward off a potential crisis, and even win back a customer.

Remember emotive words aren’t your only clues. Emojis are powerful shorthand used to convey consumer sentiment – and sometimes they replace words entirely. Your social listening software better be able to account for them or you won’t have an accurate representation of sentiment.

Link to tweet: https://twitter.com/taylorswift13/status/911330863769628672

That goes for understanding slang and sarcasm as well. You don’t have time to chase false positives – you want your time spent on actual threats.

Look beyond your regular channels

Your monitoring can’t be limited to the channels where you’re active. Even if you don’t choose to have a presence on every social network out there (and you don’t need one), you have to be aware of potential troublemakers on other channels.

Take into consideration review sites, blogs and forums and be sure you’re not being inaccurately represented.

To that end, logos are something else your monitoring tools should be able to spot – at least, any misappropriation of your logo.

Anything your tools can’t catch leaves the door open for trolls and saboteurs.

Respond only when necessary

It’s natural to leap into a defensive posture when someone attacks your brand – but not every situation requires a response.

The expression “don’t feed the trolls” is a warning to those who can’t resist fighting back. The trolls will never accept logic, reason, an apology, etc. They just want to make noise and start trouble. It’s best to ignore them.

The same strategy may be appropriate at other times – when soon-to-be-revealed information will answer the questions better than you could in the moment.

Agency Camp + King chose this route when an early draft of the Sacramento Kings’ new logo was leaked prior to launch. They knew the official reveal a few days later would assuage fans’ anxiety about the incomplete logo that was leaked – and that’s exactly what happened.

When customers have an individual complaint you always want to respond. Even if they aren’t seeking a resolution, demonstrating you care goes a long way. And everyone on social – both customers and prospects – takes note as well. Don’t leave them waiting long enough to become resentful. They’ll either make a bigger deal about it – or move on to your competitors. Neither is a good option for your brand.

Similarly, if something gets past your monitoring efforts and does go viral, respond quickly and briefly. Acknowledge what’s happening, apologize if appropriate, and move on to solving the issue. Spending time talking about it, or arguing with the social throng, just keeps the story in the limelight longer.

An ounce of prevention

You can’t control what social users do – so you may find yourself the victim of a negative viral story at some point, no matter how vigilant you are. However… that vigilance will minimize the damage if the worst comes to pass.

But most likely, real-time social media monitoring will keep things from ever getting that far. Because you’ll always know what’s happening in time to do something about it. That’s worth making it a priority.

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Image from Brian Gratwicke

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