How Prepared Is Your Company To Handle A Crisis Using Social Media?

During a crisis situation, how prepared is your organization to handle it and engage with the public using social media?

That’s the question that Enventys Partners’ CEO Brandon Uttley posed this week on the leading Social Fresh blog, in a post entitled 10 Social Media Crisis Questions Dole Food Company Failed To Answer.

Dole Food Company issued a recall earlier this week that involved about 750 cases of a particular Dole bagged salad product that may pose a health risk from Salmonella. In examining this incident, Uttley discovered several surprising facts:

  • Dole did not bother to post anything about the crisis on any social media channels they have until at least 48 hours after first posting a press release about it on their website
  • Their company home page had no news or links to the crisis
  • The company—the world’s largest producer and marketer of fruits and fresh vegetables—doesn’t have a blog
  • The company failed to address public questions on Facebook and other social media channels

Why Social Media Matters During A Crisis

People now expect companies, especially those in the food services and packaged good industries,  to use social media to effectively communicate.  During a crisis, organizations should act quickly and proactively to avoid seeming clueless, careless and secretive.

When bad news hits, it’s too late to set up your corporate social media presence. Many steps must be taken beforehand to prepare for the inevitable:

  • Register your brand name and set up profiles on the top social media sites
  • Integrate social media sharing within your website(s) and blog(s)
  • Develop a crisis plan that includes the use of social media along with defined roles and responsibilities for monitoring and proactively responding
  • Brainstorm “what if” scenarios and determine how the company will respond using social media (particularly when responsible parties are on the road, operating without power, etc.)
  • Rehearse your response using all main social media channels