The importance of rapid social media response during a crisis cannot be overstated. But simply responding quickly isn’t enough for a social media response to be effective; it requires planning. CommCore suggests that the social media component of any crisis communications plan includes the “3F” Rule: Be Fast, Factual, and Flexible.
1) FAST: CommCore CEO Andy Gilman has noted that the traditional “Golden Hour” response time for crisis communications to take place via traditional media is now down to 15 minutes. The hyper-speed proliferation of hash-tagged critical comments and attacks via social media at the onset of any public-facing crisis is abundant proof that more than ever before time is now the key factor in managing a social media-driven crisis.
2) FACTUAL: Despite increased efforts by social media platforms to screen for potentially incendiary postings, there are no copy editors to vet the accuracy of a social media posting before it gets published and goes viral. The best way to respond to false or misleading information is to simply state the facts as you know them in your response without provoking the original poster any further.
3) FLEXIBLE: Even with the need for speed, don’t be trigger-happy when responding. Monitor the subject thread and see if it has gone viral yet, or if it has been limited to relatively few views and shares. If you deem that it’s still contained, consider engaging directly with the original poster to see if you can get him or her to communicate directly with you rather than through a public platform. If it has gone viral, make sure you reply with your facts using the same hashtags. Find friendly 3rd parties who can join in telling your side of the story, and monitor, monitor, monitor.
When developing a crisis plan, make sure you incorporate a social media strategy and that real-time collaboration with your digital team is included.