Michael Oelschig explains in forensic detail how marketing teams should manage a social-media crisis.

As a crisis unfolds, it's recommended to remember what's printed in large letters on the cover of The Hitchhiker' Guide to the Galaxy: Don't panic!

Stage 1. Crisis triggers

A crisis starts with an event, then something about the event is published on social media, people begin to share the post and conversation grows around it.

Here are the steps you need to follow:

Identify the conversation

Conversations are the catalysts, turning a complaint or point of contention into a full-blown social-media storm and they can be categorised as:

  • Reactive (unplanned): an unexpected mistake or service failure, such as a systems crash, offensive content or in-store issue.
  • Proactive (planned): when a corporate decision has the potential to receive major backlash from its community or customers, such as planned website downtime, price increases or negative company results.