Ali Cozzolino-Smith

Apr 17, 2021

3 min read

How to Avoid a Social Media Crisis

Social media can be an amazing communication tool for companies to engage with their audience, employ social listening and promote their brand authentically. However, brands need to take responsibility for their actions over social media. They must take precautions and understand that what they post can impact their audience and alter how their audience sees and engages with the brand in the future.

Several brands have had to take action and “clean up” messes that have been made on social media. They had to enact crisis management plans to repair damages or further damage to their reputations due to missteps.

The following guide is intended to help minimize any further lapses in judgment from companies on social media.

Set Clear and Concise In-House Guidelines

Every member of your team and company must be on the same page. For example, tone of voice and information shared with consumers over social media should be the same in all stages of the conversation. Many companies include a “tone of voice” guideline when answering questions, returning comments, or general engagement with consumers as the brand. In theory, if the team members know the message, vision, information, and tone of voice, the interactions with consumers should be relatively seamless.

Know your Audience

It is crucial to understand your audience so that you can engage with them effectively over social media. You can give your content the correct tone of voice to communicate with your audience on social media platforms. For example, if you know that your audience is a part of the younger demographic, it would be best to communicate with them via TikTok instead of over Facebook. By viewing your social media insights on the platform, you can easily identify your audience's age, gender, and geography, among other key identifying demographics. Using the correct tone of voice will also drive engagement. Your followers will believe that.

Be Transparent and Authentic

If you are endorsing something, it is good to disclose why you like the product or use it. If it is a paid advertisement or a sponsored post, you must disclose that information to your audience by using either a hashtag (#Ad) or mention that the post was sponsored.

If you are partnering with a person, it is important to tell your audience why you are doing business with them and align with your company’s guidelines and values.

Overall, Communicate with your audience about the relationship with the product, person, organization, etc. It is easier for your consumers to get on board and begin supporting the affiliation if they understand the reasoning for the collaboration.

Own Up To It

If a crisis does arise, it is best to address any issues or situations before anything gets too out of hand and speculations are made. The silence can be deafening and result in a lack of communication. Waiting to make a statement can put a sour taste in the mouth of your audience. It is essential that the company stands together and makes a statement to address whatever the situation may be to clear their name and set any records straight.

In summary, this guide will help prevent companies from having crises by setting clear and concise in-house guidelines, knowing your audience, being transparent, and owning up to and acknowledging any missteps that occur. Making social media a comfortable and inclusive space for all individuals should be the goal for companies engaging with audiences on digital platforms.

11 Ways to Avoid A Social Media Crisis. (2017, August 25). Our Social Times — Social Media for Business.

Blitch, K. (2021, April 13). Crisis Situations & Ethics [Slides]. Canvas.