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How ContentCal is helping brands manage content in a crisis

Sophie Thompson
1st December 2020
managing a crisis

Social media communication is something that brands work hard to refine - In an ideal world, everything is going your way and under your control.

But, unfortunately crises do happen. Curve balls make your initial plan defunct and off-key compared to what’s happening around you. That’s why you need a crisis management tool that ensures that you can pause, and continue to use social media effectively without any hiccups.

ContentCal is on the ball when it comes to social media crisis management. It enables you to manage content in the good times, and when there is a break in the tracks.

Crisis management

What is a social media crisis?

Fundamentally, there are two types of crisis which will determine when you know you’ve got the right social media crisis management tools:

  • Something specific about your business
  • Something external that affects your business (and others too)

The first type of crisis comes in all sorts of guises. It’s something that damages your brand or reputation. Social media has a tendency to snowball issues. For example, a boycott on your products because of a viral post about ethics, offensive or inappropriate behaviour of a high-profile employee or a product fail. These types of crises can be devastating to a brand and cost serious business.

The second type of crisis is something we are all too familiar with in 2020; something in wider society, politics, or nature that is detrimental for businesses. The most obvious example to date is the COVID-19 crisis.

By their nature, neither of these types of crises are planned for. They come out of the blue. But just because they aren’t planned for, it doesn’t mean you can’t plan for them.

How to handle a social media crisis

How COVID-19 has affected marketing

If there’s one thing that COVID-19 has done in the marketing arena, it’s proving to absolutely every business the need for crisis management communication tools. In short, a crisis management tool isn’t a luxury. It needs to be built into your everyday social media approach, ready for when you need social media crisis management.

Beyond the lesson that we need to be prepared, constantly, for a crisis of seismic proportions, COVID has shaped marketing in a couple of other distinct ways.

Firstly, ethics have come right to the forefront of marketing. Brands are now under pressure with a need to be ethical, compassionate, empathic and authentic. They need to convey the sentiment that they are on the side of the customer and the side of the world.

Secondly, COVID has taught us that the online arena (and thus the social media arena) matter more than ever. Internet usage is up 50-70% since the world shut down.

What preparation should you do in advance for a crisis?

Fundamentally, you need to channel your inner Boy Scout and be prepared. This starts with updating or creating a robust social media crisis management policy.

Within this you should have:

  • What counts as a crisis
  • What should happen in a crisis? (Including when and how to pause all social media posts)
  • Who is responsible for handling it and what are your approval processes?
  • How can you learn from it?

There should also be pre-prepared messages which can be tweaked before rolling out.

Social media is a 24/7 affair and crisis management involves moving quickly. You need to have personnel skilfully monitoring your social media around the clock. Social listening is imperative.

Preparation also involves having clear social media communication policies in the first place. In this it should be clear:

  • How crises are avoided e.g. how to deal with negative posts
  • How employees may or may not use social media. You should have clear guidelines for copyright, confidentiality, privacy and tone of voice.
  • How accounts are secured

Preparing for a social media crisis

How can ContentCal help you manage a crisis?

ContentCal is all about planning and structuring your content. However, long before COVID-19 raised its ugly head, we knew that ContentCal needed to be more. It needed to be a fully-functioning crisis management tool too, so we did exactly that.

“Thankfully, ContentCal has a panic button. It could be a lifesaver,” said one of our 25,000 customers, When COVID-19 came along, this served our clients well. Whereas other social media tools required their users to go in and individually pause or delete every single post, with the potential for forgetting some. This was also a process that was time consuming, which is exactly why we wanted a one-click pause solution.

This ability, for businesses that have pipelines of content slotting into automated schedules is essential.

Back in April, we spoke to 7 experts about managing social media in a crisis. Many of the experts explained how a core part of social media crisis management is the ability to change tack. Paul Ince, Director at LikeMindMedia and Co-founder of MarketEd.Live explained that you should avoid carrying on like nothing has changed. “Everything has changed. It may only be temporary (hopefully) but not acknowledging what’s going on in your social media plan is completely tone deaf.”

Another excellent way that ContentCal works as one of the best social media crisis management tools is that it actively enables you to prepare for the worst to happen before it does.

ContentCal is designed so that everyone can have an overview of their company’s marketing plan. We understand that all sorts of different people can be involved with your social media actions, with differing levels of authority. But everyone needs to know what to do in a crisis. That’s why ContentCal makes it easy for you to store a crisis plan in Articles where everyone can see it.

Watch our video about using ContentCal in a crisis and discover other ways it can help, such as changing approval processes and dragging and dropping content to a later date.

Best crisis responses from brands

We tend to hear more about the disasters, but there are some great crisis responses from brands.

We love how KFC dropped their ‘finger lickin’ good’ slogan in response to hygiene changes due to COVID. We admire how H&M put their hands up and immediately apologised about their offensive ‘coolest monkey’ advertising in 2018. And we’re impressed with how Nike responded by making personalised trainers after video captured basketball player Zion Williamson’s trainers exploding on court.

Crises will happen. Handling them appropriately can turn into a win for the brand. When a crisis comes, you need to be able to stop everything and respond with honesty, integrity and a desire to make things better. In this way, you can boost your brand’s reputation, even in the face of a crisis, rather than entrench a negative response.

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