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What Causes a Social Crisis?

The more engaged we are in social media and online conversations, the more easily we can see how good intentions go wrong. We may have seen poorly planned marketing strategies go awry, leading to disastrous consequences for a company, a person, or a brand.  

Where do things go wrong?

  • A lack of engagement
  • Lack of understanding about a cause/idea/position
  • Negative comments/responses

With so many conversations happening at any given time online, it’s difficult, if not impossible, to be completely engaged. However, if customers are counting on being heard and receiving a response, that lack of engagement is going to cause problems. Companies today need to have a team ready to watch for ways to connect in conversation, or they may begin to see criticism of their company spread online. (And we all know how quickly things spread online.)

Social crisis can also happen when a company decides to take a position about something in a public setting. If they haven’t thought through the needs of their customers or they have failed to  consider all possible ramifications, they may receive a backlash from the audience – and from those outside of their target audience.

And because people are people, mistakes happen. We all have bad days, but when those bad days turn into negative comments online in response to other negative comments, crises can emerge. One person sees the negative response and shares it with someone else, who shares it with someone else, etc. A company that generally does good things for their customers may then suddenly be associated with this one slip.

Managing social crisis situations becomes a crucial component to achieving your goals and protecting your brand. Establishing an online media platform support is critical. By reducing the chances of these slips happening and by responding quickly and contritely to situations, customers may have their reactions, but then they can let the situation go.


Things that happen online stay online, after all, so prevention becomes the best cure.