10 Ways to deal with a social media explosion

What is the best way of preparing or repairing your brands reputation when big news breaks online? From a secretive new Apple product launch to a damning piece of negative press, once it appears online, its only a matter of time before the waves start to hit the social media shores.

I’ve taken 10 key learnings from a number explosions that I’ve observed and been involved in over the past few months and wanted to share them with you.

1. Predict

If at all possible, thorough preparation for a big online news event can be priceless. Creating a set of frequently asked questions can be a extremely valuable resource when composing blog comments, Facebook replies or Twitter tweets. If you have the luxury of a PR team then these guys can be invaluable at helping prepare.

2. Prepare

Can your blog cope with a traffic spike or do you need to use a plug-in like WordPress’s Super Cache to take the strain? If you have a good relationship with your host, let them know before that traffic is coming so that they can have support available if your hosting does start to slow down.

3. Plan

Big announcements usually have a time that they go live. Make sure that everything you need to be is in place before the event. This allows you to totally focus on dealing with the positive feedback and/or negative fallout that the announcement may bring.

4. Filter

If you are expecting feedback from your announcement/release then carefully prepare your feedback channels. Make sure comments are enabled on blog posts, create a Facebook Note that all of your comments can accumulate in and consider setting up a dedicated e-mail address for feedback to be sent to. Setting the channels up effectively means you have less places to monitor and messages can be communicated quickly across fewer places.

5. Observe

You don’t always need to rush in and react to the fallout from an announcement. More often than not there will be positive and negative messages – look for trends and themes, especially in the negative comments.This will help when composing replies.

6. Respond

Preparing a reponse that answers a number of concerns is more efficient that addressing each one seperately. That said, your reply strategy should be dictated by the volume of responses, ideally you would reply to each and every piece of feedback individually, but sometimes that just is not possible.

7. Trust

This one involves a leap of faith that some people may not be willing to take. If you are confident in your brand (and your customers) then have faith that the loyal and passionate customers will see the positive side and hopefully they will make up a large volume of the social media buzz.

8. Listen

Even if you aren’t planning to respond to tweets on Twitter, still listen to what people are saying. You might find it useful for coming up with answers or even predicting the questions that haven’t been asked in other channels.

9. Rotate

Dealing with an onslaught of feedback via Twitter, Facebook, the Blog is tough going. Creating unique, well crafted responses quickly and efficiently is time consuming and mentally tiring. Make sure you have more than one person fire-fighting otherwise the quality of responses may drop over time.

10. Evaluate

Don’t wait until the explosion has passed before you begin to evaluate. Keep notes of lessons learnt during quiet periods. There can be a huge amount of activity in a short period of time and this stop-start nature will mean that recalling all the occurrences in detail will be challenging.

Now you know what to do, find out what not to do…

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