Your Crisis Response Strategy for Facebook

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It is the question I receive regularly when speaking about social media.  That invisible barrier to fully commit to a true social conversation.  And for many, the scariest part of being social.

Negative comments.

A public crisis.

Inflammatory opinions.

In three recent cases, I heard about concerns, questions and confusion over what to do next.  The most well-known, centered around the unfortunate wild animal incident in Zanesville, Ohio.

Fortunately, the Facebook case study from the Zanesville-Muskingum County Convention & Visitors Bureau is a perfect example of what to do.  Be transparent, provide information and listen.

Here are 8 more tips to build your crisis response strategy on Facebook.

8 Tips for Dealing with Crisis Content on Facebook

Listen, Think, React

Speed is the basis of social.  Thoughts, comments and responses can be posted within seconds.  And certainly the temptation is there to acknowledge, confront or attack that negative comment immediately.  But don’t give into that temptation.  Take a step back.  Listen, think, ask for advice from your peers.  Then, compose a thoughtful response.

Have Terms of Use

Overlooked and undervalued, but when a crisis hits and the negative comments start popping up, you will be wishing you had one.  And you don’t need to recreate the wheel.  Take inspiration (don’t copy), from these excellent tourism examples:  Arizona Office of Tourism, Visit Austin and  Travel Oregon.

When and if you have to actually delete a comment, the terms of use will be your social lawyer.

Add Unbiased Content

If the situation or crisis involves a public story, such as the wild animal release in Zanesville, focus your content on 3rd-party, unbiased sources, rather than your own personal opinion or perspective.  The Zanesville-Muskingum County CVB did exactly that with the wild animal story this week.  Rather than post opinions, they focused on news, facts and information.  The result is not only informative, but prevents additional arguments and negative comments in reaction to your opinion.

Let Your Fans Respond

Ah, the power of fans.  If you are in a situation with a negative comment or crisis event, don’t forget about your fans.  Most of the time, they will help defend your page against the negative invaders…and carry much more influence with their comments.  The key is providing them with a reason to come to your defense.  Building a relationship prior to the negative event will certainly help, but in the moment, stay positive and proactive.

It is much easier to defend the positive perspective.

Don’t Argue

You know why people post negative, hurtful or stupid comments?  Because they want to argue with someone, anyone, who will listen to their rants.  It sounds easy (it’s not), but take the high road.  Don’t respond to negative irrational comments.  Let them slip quietly into the great unknown or leave them for your fans.  It is hard to argue against your own negative irrational comment.

Let Them Vent

I see it all the time.  We are not bringing our tourism dollars back to a city / county / state that does this.  Oh, the temptation to respond.  As members of the tourism industry we feel like it is our duty to answer that challenge.  But the user is just venting in the hopes that someone will argue with them.  Don’t.  Let them vent and move on.  At that point, there is no response you can provide to change their opinion.

Change the Subject

If a particular update is causing your comment heartburn, then post new content to move that story down the page.  If you can get away from the subject and actually change the topic, then do it.  Post photos, ask positive questions (why do you love_____?) and start changing the vibe of your page.  Negative people don’t like to be around positive comments and they will eventually leave.

If, like the Zanesville example, the story has a 2 or 3 day lifespan, then keep posting those 3rd-party updates.  Keep the updates relevant to the crisis, but try to keep the message as positive as possible.

Have a Social Crisis Plan

Last, but certainly not least, but sure you have a basic social crisis plan for your office.  Who is in charge?  What outlets do we use?  What content do we post?  How do we respond to the media via social?  Sure, you will likely never put the plan into action.  And honestly, what could possibly happen in our little community?  I am sure the Zanesville-Muskingum County CVB thought the same thing…until this week.

Bonus Tip + Kudos

Kudos and thanks to our friends and peers on Twitter, Facebook and the Tourism Geeks group for providing the inspiration, examples and tips around this post.  If you only take one tip from this post, make it this: ask your peers for help and advice.

Comment? @travel2dot0 or email.