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Social media is highly accessible and extremely easy to use – just some of the reasons why so many organisations, and individuals find themselves the brunt of social media firestorms.

Minimising the impact of such a firestorm or even converting it into a positive occupies the mind of many business people, public servants and NFP managers.

Prevention, anticipation and resolution are the keys to any effective strategy.

PREVENTION

  1. Communicate day in and day out

Open lines of communication will help to prevent social media attacks – but only where that communication involves as much listening as it does ‘talking’. Understanding the concerns of the audiences and responding to them strategically is essential.

  1. Embrace transparency

Transparency builds trust and trust facilitates open communication which in turn builds relationships and help to protect against attack on social media. We are more inclined to talk to people we trust and attack those we do not trust.

  1. Build a tribe

A tribe or a brand community is a audience that shares a vision and values and will as a result have common aspirations, shared trust and open communication. Become a leader and build a tribe that no only supports you brand but will also be inclined to defend it.

ANTICIPATION

  1. Understand your audiences

It is essential to identify all of your audiences, especially those most likely to complain, and understand those audiences in a way that enables you to anticipate potential issues and develop strategies to address them in a customised manner

  1. Have a strategy

Don’t wait until a problem arises or an attack materialises, to develop a strategy to deal with such occurrences. Anticipate issues and develop strategies in advance – along with the plans required to implement that strategy swiftly, when required

  1. Develop policies and procedures

All businesses need crisis management policies and procedures that work and that can be implemented quickly.  These policies and procedures need to address social media and media attacks in general. A central issue is the allocation of responsibilities

RESOLUTION

  1. Listen respond and the listen some more

Listen to what is being said when a crisis arises and respond directly, [promptly, honestly and objectively. The mistake many make is to not listen closely enough to identify and address the REAL issues in a timely manner

  1. Take it offline

Central to building trust is serotonin and with online communication there is no serotonin, and this is just one reason why it is useful to take the discussion offline and address issues face to face. This also helps to establish the sincerity of complainants and provide more detailed explanations.

  1. Answer the sincere and ignore the trolls

People with sincere concerns should be addressed fully. They will tend to be people with a genuine issue and with a genuine desire for a solution. Trolls are people who tend not to have a legitimate concern or desire for a solution. They should be starved of oxygen.

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