As social media becomes more ingrained into our lives, it takes on greater importance for everyone – especially organizations and brands. When a crisis occurs, social media becomes a big player in communication efforts. How an organization handles a crisis can have a lasting effect on that organization. Yet, the 3rd Annual State of Digital Healthcare Marketing 2017 and a recent study from Altimeter found that over three-fourths of businesses are not adequately prepared to handle such a crisis.
According to the companies surveyed by Altimeter, those most advanced in social media efforts have four requirements that are included in their social media strategy:
- Have a clear organizational social media policy in place. This sounds like a no-brainer, but it is imperative to set standards that are clear to all and to allow employees to participate with social media on a professional basis. This is important even if your organization does not participate in social media. (And if you are not on social media, why not?) Once you establish a policy, don’t forget to review it periodically, at least once a year.
- Invest in adequate resources. The thing about social media is that it’s a 24/7/365 presence. If someone tweets about a problem in your hospital’s ER at 3am on Christmas morning, it needs to be addressed promptly. The longer a complaint/issue on social media goes without response (or without an adequate response, such as United Airlinesearlier this year), the more difficult it will be to remedy the situation. While staff can make the initial responses, senior leadership should always be available for backup as needed.
- Provide continuing education. Due to its rapidly-changing nature, those who are responsible for social media at your organization should be provided with updates and learning opportunities on a routine basis.
- Provide a centralized response structure. There should be a defined structure for social media responses, with designated individuals responsible for specific tasks. There should always be a person available who is in charge, and the communication between everyone involved should be simple and seamless.