When entering the world of digital marketing, we all make sure we have a plan for posting and replying to our audience, but how many of us have a plan for when things go wrong?

Some people prefer to think of it as 'risk management' rather than 'crisis.' Whatever you call it, acrisis management plan can be the most important part of your digital strategy plan, especially if you don't have one when you need it most.

If you think your organisation won't need a risk management plan, think again. There have been groups, both big and small, who have suffered at the hands of a badly enacted crisis management plan or, worse still, no plan at all. There have also been some great examples of companies who excelled under the pressure.

So, how do you make sure you'll handle the heat?

#1: Act quickly
Although you might be tempted to hold back and just hope no one notices, it's always best to get in there quick. Like any conversation on social media, if you don't own it you have no way of controlling it. Letting people know you're aware of a potential situation and that you'll find out more to let them know is the perfect way of showing that you're on the ball and that you know your customers want to be assured you're working on it.

#2: Take charge
It's called "crisis management" for a reason, so manage the situation. If you are successful in moving fast to disseminate information, rather than waiting for the information to prompt action, you'll prove to your audience that you are on top of things and in control.

#3: Handle the facts
It's important to give people what they want- the facts. Everyone on social media is a potential journalist, so if you're the one dealing out the facts, then you're in charge of what people are saying about your brand. Above all, be truthful and honest about what is happening.

#4: Engage your critics
If you're already in control of the situation, you will be able to deal with anyone who wants to stand up as a critic. Deal with it when it arises, so you can nip it in the bud, rather than well after the fact. The web gives everyone a voice and visibility, so it's much better to be seen to be dealing with it than delaying responses.

#5: Spread the word
Use all the lines of communication you have to get the word out there. This will help you avoid any misconceptions or potential miscommunications. Use your website, blog, social media pages, media releases, anything you can to keep in control of the message on all platforms.

#6: Encourage conversation
A moment of panic can make people want to talk, or it can make them hold their tongue. If you can get your brand ambassadors (those audience members who will defend your company) to weigh in on the conversation, then you will be giving your supporters a space to build your brand up, rather than breaking it down.

#7: Deliver
If you're going to say you will do something, do it. If you say you will be issuing a press release within the hour, release it within the hour. If you can't, keep people in the loop. If you say there will be images to follow, make sure they appear in a timely fashion. This is another element of crisis management that proves to those watching that your company or organisation is trustworthy and not just covering themselves.

Do you have a strategy in place for a risky situation? Have you thought about how you want your social media handled in times of crisis? Our digital strategy team can help you analyse your social media and brand to build a strong action plan that we hope will never need to be actioned, but that is complete just in case.