Effective crisis strategy isn't just for stormy weather. The best way to prepare for a crisis is to take tactical steps on a regular basis when there's smooth sailing. One of those is listening, or monitoring social media for conversations about your brand and sector.
I've written before about the benefits of a listening strategy and what conversations you should be listening to. Within those conversations, we are looking for and keeping track of signs, warnings, and patterns that may involve one or more of the following:
- Frequency and intensity of conversations
- Sentiment or tone of posts and patterns of that sentiment
- Key fans or critics present, and frequency of their posts
- Incorrect information, misquotations, or slander
- A pattern of comments that uncovers an organizational blind spot, or "ball that has been dropped."
- Legitimate requests for information in a crisis
- Breaking news concerning the brand, especially from influential non-traditional media sources
All these elements should be documented on a regular basis to help implement a responsible triage strategy. Not all negative events online need a response, especially if your community of fans is good at policing themselves. Sometimes we have to let people vent, especially if it is a legitimate observation of a blind spot we may have.
Documentation during smooth sailing can likely be done on an Excel spreadsheet, but if you have a monitoring platform like Radian6 or Meltwater Buzz, which I suggest, this is an automated function you just need to monitor.
Understanding what to listen for within each conversation helps save you time in monitoring and could make a difference in how quickly you respond to a potential problem. Are you listening for a crisis?