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Handle it #LikeABoss: Does Your Business Have a Social Media Crisis Policy? In days when clients & customers use social media more than your contact form to complain, are you prepared for the worst?

By Rustam Singh

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

You're reading Entrepreneur India, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.

Your social media expert's sole job isn't just to promote your goods, services, launches and promotions. Social media contractors should also be prepared for the eventuality when something goes wrong, because they'll be the first targets during a crisis. Unfortunately for start-ups and businesses, customers/clients understand the importance of social media and use it to effectively bring instant action/change. There are several ways your social media accounts can attain a crisis:

  • A typing error, spelling or grammar, especially if you work in a field that requires you to be accurate with language
  • A factual error, which can be especially embarrassing
  • Some insensitive joke that has racial, sexist, homophobe or hateful speech
  • Wrongly tagging someone, which can attract a lot of hate?
  • Encouraging trolls
  • Customer/client posting evidence of failure or goof-up by your start-up
  • Viral posts that criticize your brand

This is where having a social media policy for your company comes handy. A pre-discussed policy, formal or informal, on the company's approach to any crisis can be essential for a quick reaction time by the company. In a social media crisis, the attention span of users is extremely less and thus a delayed response might attract more attention than you'd desire. Here are a few tips you can follow to avoid disasters:

Social media policy

This policy should not only cover exactly what approach your start-up uses on social media but also on what is allowed and what isn't allowed to your employees on social media for your employees. This should include what level of humor is acceptable on your page(s) and how politically neutral you want to sound. Make sure everyone from your team knows the policy once it's formed.


Social media runs on the attention spans of goldfish. Consistency is required for all your platforms and successfully implementation of plans. You can just be active during the first week and then go slow with posts later. Fans or followers deserve constant updates, at the same interval as first established, or else they'll shift to other sources. It's also essential your different social media accounts update the same topic, for example if you're offering 10% discount on your products this should be carried on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter as well as Google+ if you follow it, or followers on platform that don't use the other one would feel left out.

Responding to criticism

It's easy to respond anger with anger or show indifference, but that might cost you and your start-up dearly when we talk about social media criticism. Customers/clients might be outraged and therefore not entirely polite when they complain on your page. But fire can't be fought with fire, so maintain neutral language and assure all complains will be probed further and they'd get their responses back soon. It's important to remind them as soon as possible, because time lost might attract more attention than you'd want.

Don't nag for positive reviews

It's extremely annoying for any start-up to blackmail to bribe customers with offers in exchange for positive reviews/ratings. This dilutes the company's trust factor and that's difficult to regain back. If your products and services are good, good reviews would come automatically and do not need pestering constantly.

Good Humour

Last but not the least, humour works – always. When trapped in a tricky situation, keep a clear head and try to overcome it by humour. A great example of a major social media crisis handled perfectly by able managers using humour is – Amazon Vs Flipkart. Amazon clearly came out one up. For the uninitiated, it all started when Reddit India posted a picture of Amazon packaging lying in Flipkart's office. And the e-commerce site's response was not exactly in the best taste as it wrote "We recycled said packaging as our reception's dustbin". This was not appreciated at all. Finally, Amazon gave a reply, that was not only fitting but graceful, earning them a lot of respect and fans. Amazon India wrote, "There's a bit of Amazon in every e-commerce company". No dustbin swag this was! A major brand win by Amazon.

What's the most repulsive or funny feedback and interactions of start-ups' social media have you seen? Let us know in the comments on our official Facebook page Entrepreneur India

Rustam Singh

Sub-Editor- Entrepreneur.com

Tech reporter.

Contact me if you have a truly unique technology related startup looking for a review and coverage, especially a crowd-funded project looking to launch and coverage.

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