4 Steps to Develop a Risk Assessment & Crisis Social Media Plan

Social Media watchers have seen over the last week two separate instances where a crisis plan is required as a part of any digital strategy and social media plan. Sanofi-Aventis ran into issues with their Facebook page and Nestle has had some negative feedback on their page as well.

Jeremiah Oywang, has a nice summary of the situation with Nestle and steps to take in the event of a crisis.

In case you haven’t been watching, Nestle’s Facebook Fan page has been overrun by critics around deforestation, sustainability and poor social media relations. While this isn’t the place to have a discussion sustainability, let’s look at the ramifications this has to society, brands, fans, and Facebook.
I spent a few hours reading and researching, it looks like members of Greenpeace launched an online protest, (read here, here, here) spurring a groundswell of online criticism, a majority of it on their Facebook fan page.   Nestle’ responded defensively,  threatening to remove off-brand logos from it’s Facebook page resulting in a flurry of negative comments. It’s not totally clear if Greenpeace staged and executed the whole attack, but regardless, the community is relentlessly dog piling on the brand’s Facebook page.  While Nestle’ responded with a Q&A on their corporate site, it appears Nestle’ has retreated from the discussion –leaving the page open for detractors
If You Fail to Plan then you Plan to Fail 

1. A risk assessment is standard issue for any strategy, but should develop a SOP as a component of any social media plan. Especially for any Rx/Dx marketers. You're being risk averse as it is, so please make sure you have an assessment of your weak points and where an attack could come in the event that there is some negative feedback. Be creative in order to scenario plan as much as possible.Think pricing, side effects, Sr. Management, labor, business practices, marketing practices, etc.

2. Create a response plan. This could include members of the internal response team, contact info, etc. Who are your major internal and external (customer) stakeholders? What do you want to communicate? What is the issue that needs to be addressed? If you're an Rx/Dx marketer, you want to do this well ahead of time to ensure you can respond in a timely manner. Build multiple scenarios and write multiple response plans. Yes, this sounds like a lot of work (and it is) but the last thing you want is to get hung up in Legal/Regulatory review when your Facebook page is blowing up.

3. Identify "Hit by a Train" Contingencies. Cross-train multiple people who could implement the plan. Remove all single points of failure that could prevent a fast response, i.e. "John Doe, our community manager, is on vacation this week and I don't how to respond." Identify back-up resources in the event someone is on vacation. 

3. Test and Train your plan. Please prepare your primary contacts, their back-ups and Sr. Management to manage for negative feedback. It is inevitable.

4. Develop a internal Social Media Oath and Plan. Build relationships with your communities and don't do anything that can't pass an "authentic" test. In the case of Nestle, specifically asking people not to mess with their logo, it begs people to mess with their logo. Is your voice authentic? Are you helping the community? Have you established enough trust and provided enough value that you can make a request?

I'll say it again, this is a marathon and not a sprint. Social Media and your community should be treated like a garden, it needs to cared for, watered and nurtured and if the sun shines just right you can be rewarded in the form of advocates, defenders and company loyalists; but only if you've done the work necessary to cultivate trust. It takes time and needs to happen as a core component of any plan.

Fortunately for the rest of us, there are situations like Motrin, Sanofi-Aventis and Nestle that serve as all too clear examples of how proper planning can help mitigate some of the risks of social media for Rx/Dx companies, but not entirely prevent.

Be prepared, folks.

| www.jlefevere.com | www.thedigitalstrategist.com |

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