Social Media Crisis: Not Every Negative Comment is a Public Relations Crisis

social media crisis

Not every blip is a crisis

Not every complaint or troll needs to be considered a social media crisis. Many businesses have over reacted and paid dearly for it. In fact, sometimes, responding to every blip could be giving publicity to every comment, complaints, opinion, conflicts and crisis that happens on social media, which is absolutely unnecessary. However, you never know which issue will cause full scale damage on your brand. When then does a blip become a strong signal for you to respond to? When does an incident become a crisis? According to Melissa Agnes, a leading global Crisis Intelligence professional and Co-founder of Agnes + Day, separating minor social media issues can save you from blowing issues out of proportion and identifying ones that require urgent attention. She proposed a five-question checklist that highlights the needed response.

  • Is there a strong, negative emotional impact?
  • Is the situation, or is there potential for the situation to go viral?
  • Can this situation trigger a liability claim and/or reputational damage to the company or organization?
  • Is there increased negative chatter and/or online attacks against the brand?
  • Is the offense or issue in question intriguing, catchy and/or highly share-able?

If you answered “yes” to one or more of these questions, then it would be wise to look at the current threat as though it were an online crisis, reacting and responding accordingly.

If the answer is “no” to all of these questions, then the situation should be responded to appropriately, as a social media issue. As there is no cookie-cutter approach and each and every company and organisation is different in their own right, determining the difference between a social media crisis and a social media issue is extremely important for your organization to do, before you find yourself faced with either scenario.

Response time is everything in both a crisis and an issue situation. The sooner you respond, the sooner you begin to regain control of the situation, and the least amount of negative repercussions it threatens to have on your brand. The quicker you enable your team to be able to identity and label a negative online situation, the more power you have in resolving the issue in a timely and appropriate manner”.

Getting into a crisis is not a recipe for disaster because everyone agrees that we are all taking baby steps in humanizing our businesses or brands and as humans we make mistakes. No one will judge you for that. However, you will be judged by the quality of your response and social media is the grand stage for you to perform. Before the performance, before you get on that grand stage, you need to understand the basics of social media crisis, and how to deal with them accordingly.


There is little room for error when managing a public relations crisis – social media now puts your performance on the global stage. How do you plan, prepare, manage a social media crisis?


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