What is a social media crisis and why should we react?  


In a fast-paced world of technology and news, the wrong tweet, misspelling or social faux pas can have far-reaching repercussions. How brands respond to these can dictate the level of damage. The insurance industry is an easy target for disgruntled customers, so they need to be on high alert at all times. A simple communication plan can handle general concerns but not all comments are equal. Special care should be taken when tackling specific topics which can create outrage and serious brand reputational damage. 

MiWay got it right in 2017 when a fake email did the rounds on social media of racist procedures being followed in the business. Within hours the company acknowledged the posts and launched an investigation which later disproved the email. The way the company handled this was a perfect example of a well-executed escalation plan. The CEO, René Otto released a statement online. MiWay proudly discusses it on its website blog. This event received mainstream media exposure at the time of the initial accusation. Further commendations followed at the professional manner in which MiWay handled the entire situation. This type of positive exposure cannot be bought. 

Not all campaigns are successful, even if they have the best intentions. JP Morgan had a great idea, but the timing was poor. The organisation invited the public to ask questions using a hashtag, #AskJPM. However, the campaign was launched shortly after JP Morgan came under scrutiny for manipulating world financial markets and other criminal investigations. Why the brand was surprised to have less than flattering comments and questions in response astounds me. There was no forward planning. Yes, the campaign trended online but for all the wrong reasons. The hashtag was pulled mere hours after the launch.  

Even large global brands fail at social media; look at Coca-Cola. It inadvertently used a pre-World War II map of Russia in a tweet. It caused outrage in the region. 


Mistakes can happen and comments will be interpreted incorrectly. Businesses must be prepared for this before they escalate beyond control. 

Crisis communication is not about reacting when it goes viral, it’s about preventing the potential backlash. The work done ahead of time can save a brand in the long run. The team assigned to crisis communication must be committed to the urgency and agreed procedures. The secret is speed and accuracy. The trick is to constantly assume the worst and be prepared; anticipate negative comments before they come.

As a RISKAfrica special offer, Social Consultancy is offering free telephonic support to any reader who needs advice on setting up social media and subsequent procedures.

Cheryl Barnett Bio:

I have accumulated over 15 years’ experience in digital marketing and social media management, from the B2C space, the corporate world and via my custom consultancy. The digital strategies I’ve created consistently resonate with customers and drive immediate action. I have future-proofed established in-house teams through skills sharing and bespoke training sessions. I’m compact enough to care about the detail but practised enough to offer the full agency experience. I am a mom to a little person and cats. I travel as often as possible to the bush, the beach and beyond and I’m curious about the constant evolution of content in the digital space.


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