It can happen in an instant. A seemingly harmless response to a snarky comment on social can spiral into a full blown reputation crisis for a brand. How you manage and de-escalate a social crisis, as well as the steps you take to prevent it from happening again, are crucial to your customer service blueprint.

In this week’s chat we turned to our #SproutChat community to explore some best practices for managing a social emergency effectively and how to take precautions ahead of time to be ready with a plan.

Create a Crisis Communication Plan

Take the time to plan out a social media crisis management plan not just with your team, but across your organization—like your legal team and customer support—to thoroughly handle the issue. Be in tune with your audience and understand that certain tones, content or messages may not resonate with them and cause backlash.

Loop in the Appropriate People

When creating your crisis management plan think of who should be looped in with each step. Think of when your technology, legal, PR and Executive teams need to be brought in to help when crafting these plans. Consult with the appropriate people within your organization who would need eyes on what’s happening.

Brand Guidelines Are Key

When launching a new social channel take the time to figure out if brand guidelines are necessary. If you offer social support on your channels coordinate with customer service to be looped in on the appropriate responses to comments. Offer your brand guidelines to anyone at your business who is externally facing.

Don’t Ignore the Situation

Ultimately your crisis management plan may have a “stay silent” rule, but it’s important to not ignore comments and communicate with your team to effectively move forward with the plan. Encourage social team members to take the conversation offline as quickly as possible.

Keep Track of Incoming Messages

Negative comments are the first indicator that a possible crisis is brewing. If you tag incoming messages in your social platform you can easily take note and figure out the root of the problem. This is an easy method to also share the situation with others in your organization.

Join us for #SproutChat next week to discuss managing online communities with Sprout All Star, Meagan DeMenna, Community Manager at ClearVoice. Until then, be sure to join our Facebook Community to connect with other folks in the industry and stay on top of the latest social media news.