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How to Create A Social Media Response Plan: Crisis Communication Plan 101

Nikki Del Mundo
February 1, 2023
Last Updated On
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In today's digital age, it's more important than ever for brands to have a social media response plan. With the ease with which information can spread online, businesses must be prepared to handle potential crises that may arise on online platforms. A social media response plan allows a business to manage its online reputation, protect its brand, and communicate effectively with its audience during times of crisis.

What Should Brands Have a Social Media Response Plan For?

Brands should have a social media response plan for internal and external events. Internal events refer to issues within the organization, while external events refer to issues that happen outside the organization but still affect it. Examples of these can be found below.

Internal Events

Internal events that may require a social media response plan include:

  • Negative comments or reviews about products: Social media and community managers will be the first to hear about product criticism and bad press.
  • Employee errors: Social media can also be a source of negative attention if an employee makes a mistake.
  • Operational disruptions: Any disruptions in business operations, such as supply chain issues or IT failures, can be communicated via social media.
  • Mergers, acquisitions, and other significant internal changes: These events can require a social media response plan to communicate the changes to the audience and stakeholders.

External Events

External events that may require a social media response plan include:

  • Natural disasters: If a natural disaster such as a hurricane or earthquake impacts the company or its stakeholders, it's important to communicate with customers and other stakeholders through social media.
  • Product recalls: If a product recall is necessary, a social media response plan can help a company communicate with customers and provide updates on the recall process.
  • Social and political issues: Companies should be prepared to address any social and political issues affecting their brand and reputation and engage with stakeholders thoughtfully and respectfully.

What to Consider Before Crafting a Response Plan

Before crafting a social media response plan, taking stock of the current social climate and performing a situational analysis is important. This step is crucial for gaining context and insights into the factors that ultimately influence how you respond.

Some key factors to consider when crafting your response plan include:

  • Reviewing your brand's track record of support: Look at how you have responded to previous issues, events, and movements on social media. This will help you understand your brand's strengths and weaknesses in crisis communication.
  • Preparation is key: If this is your brand's first time taking a major stance, take time to craft unique responses for each varying scenario. This ensures that all your bases are covered when engaging with audience feedback.
  • Backing up statements with action: Any statement you make should be backed by action. Make a plan to hold your brand team accountable for your commitment.

How to Create a Social Media Response Plan

Creating a social media response plan can seem daunting, but it's essential for protecting your brand and managing your online reputation. A well-crafted plan can help you navigate a crisis and communicate effectively with your audience. Here are some steps to follow when creating your plan:

1. Identify the scope of the plan and key stakeholders.

Determine what events the plan should cover and who should be involved in the response. Identify key stakeholders such as customers, employees, and shareholders, and consider how to communicate with them during a crisis.

2. Establish clear guidelines and roles for those involved in the response.

Clearly define the roles and responsibilities of those involved in the response and the steps that should be taken during a crisis. Identify a crisis communication team and establish a chain of command for decision-making.

3. Determine the types of crises that may arise and how to handle them.

Identify the types of crises that may arise, such as a natural disaster, product recall, or negative media coverage, and develop strategies for responding to each. Outline the messaging and tone that should be used for each type of crisis.

4. Develop a crisis communication strategy, including messaging and tone.

Develop a communication strategy that includes messaging, tone, and a list of appropriate communication channels during a crisis. This can consist of social media, email, website, and press releases.

5. Test and review the plan regularly to ensure it is effective and up-to-date.

Regularly test and review the plan to ensure it is effective and up-to-date. This may include conducting mock crisis simulations to test the plan's effectiveness and make any necessary updates.

Remember that having a social media response plan in place is vital to prepare for the unexpected, and it's imperative to keep it updated and tested to have a successful outcome in case of a crisis.

How to Avoid a Social Media Crisis

Preventative measures are crucial to avoiding a social media crisis. Among these activities are monitoring social media channels regularly to identify any potential issues or concerns, responding promptly to customer inquiries and complaints, and communicating honestly with stakeholders. 

Another critical step is to have a clear set of guidelines for how employees should use social media, including what they can and cannot post. Training staff on social media best practices can also help prevent a crisis from occurring. 

Furthermore, clearly understanding your audience and knowing how to communicate with them in a crisis is necessary to avoid and mitigate any damages caused by a social media crisis. By being proactive and taking these steps, you can help reduce the likelihood of a crisis occurring and be better prepared to handle one if it does.

Managing Your Social Presence with Dash Hudson

A community management tool, like Dash Hudson's Community Manager, can be extremely helpful in managing a brand's social media presence and responding to potential crises. Community Manager allows teams to monitor and reply to direct messages, tweets, Instagram Story mentions, and post comments in one easy-to-use inbox. Automated sentiment analysis of each comment allows you to quickly identify and address negative comments and shift your strategy if needed. Protect your brand image by staying on top of your customers' needs.


What is a social media response plan?

A social media response plan is a set of guidelines and strategies for managing and responding to crises on social media. It helps businesses protect their brand and communicate effectively with stakeholders during times of crisis.

How do you respond to a social media crisis?

To respond to a social media crisis, it's important to act quickly and follow the guidelines outlined in the social media response plan. This may include identifying the crisis and its impact, determining the appropriate messaging and tone, and communicating with stakeholders through social media channels.

What is strategic response planning?

Strategic response planning is identifying and preparing for potential crises and developing strategies for responding to them effectively. This includes identifying key stakeholders and establishing clear guidelines for communicating with them during a crisis.

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