16 January 2017

Hacks, slander and sabotage: Responding to online crises

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As our daily communication migrates online, crises in these digital domains are becoming increasingly common.

UNSW learnt this the hard way last year when they had an alarming outbreak of scantily-clad women on their Facebook page.

Whilst preventing the crisis in the first place is obviously preferable, it is of the highest priority to respond appropriately should one occur.

Your online crisis response plan should include the following:

1.       Acknowledge

Even if you know nothing about the situation, acknowledge that something has happened. A company which says “We realise an unfortunate event has occurred. We are investigating and will provide you with answers as soon as they are made available” will have a greater chance of retaining your customer loyalty than deafening silence.

2.       Respond

If a crises has emerged on Instagram there is little point responding to it on Twitter. Address the concerns where the conversation is happening.

3.       Create a crisis 411

Pull all relevant information about the incident into one place. Should queries be raised, they will be easily answered by providing the link rather than supplying paragraph-long answers throughout your social networks.

4.       Let it happen- under your control

People will find a means to express themselves when they are dissatisfied so you may as well let it happen under your supervision. By providing a point of release for expressing dissatisfaction you prevent it from happening elsewhere.

5.       Forewarned is forearmed

Your employees are going to be contacted, questioned and possibly confronted. The last thing you need is quotes being circulated from uneducated sources. Prepare them by arming them with all the information they need about the incident to prevent further damage to your reputation.

Don’t miss Akolade’s Social Media for Higher Education Conference coming to Sydney on the 3rd-5th May 2017, where knowledgeable industry leaders will share how to drive engagement and organisational growth through social media channels.


Written by: Claire Dowler

Claire Dowler is a Conference Producer with Akolade. She recently graduated with a double degree: a Bachelor of Journalism and a Bachelor of Media and Communications Studies majoring in International Communication. Claire minored in sarcasm and puns.
A ballroom-dancer who collects salt and pepper shakers and volunteers for animal rescue, you might say Claire has eclectic interests.

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