Use social media in a crisis — Live from the Brands-Only Summit

Coverage of this session by Eli Benitez of Connect with him by following him on Twitter.

11:15 —'s Courtney Graham introduces Chevron's Olivia Harting.

11:16 — Olivia: I'm sure there are many of you that are very familiar with a crisis situation coming from a brand. And some of you that are not. Very few…  We experienced something a familiar of distractors who bought one of our hashtags. they tried to mislead some people.

11:18 — Whatever the case.. You've seen some crisis in social media. This is space that is evolving and changing. We continue to evolve these and I hope you can learn something from this today.

11:20 — Olivia: What we are going to discus today are:

  • How to prepare for a crisis
  • What to do during a crisis
  • Learning from a crisis

11:22 —  Olivia: These are few ways to prepare for a crisis.

  • Establish team roles and responsibilities
  • Create and share a key contact list. Make sure to keep it up to date.
  • Create a group email or text distribution list. Make sure to socialize that beyond your team. Makes sure you use outside source to contact your tram.
  • Centralize access to passwords and publishing capabilities, procedure docs, etc. We keep key information on a sharepoint site in the event of a crisis that we share right away.
  • Develop approved ‘holding statements’. We all know what its like to run a legal gauntlet so be familiar with those.
  • Formalize a social media crisis playbook . Helps your team know expectations in the event of a crisis. What should be escalated. When and to who. How do you want your team to provide you with updated information. Establish how you want them to provide you with that information.
  • Create a checklist! 
It doesn't cover everything but serves as a reminder for crisis 101 stuff. Alerting your agencies, alert other groups in the company with other social teams as well. let them know what your expectations are.
  • Do drills. Anticipate those 1 or 2 crisis  that you know might exist. Make it muscle memory.
  • Train local resources on social media procedures and publishing.

11:26 — Olivia: What you do during a crisis.

  • Gather team, set up a situation room, run thru the checklist
  • Get your dashboards up and running
  • Don’t go ‘radio silent’ . A lot of the times we want to stick our heads in the sand and say this is isn't happening. But, it is. You must do something about it.
  • Address the issue online within minutes .
  • Consolidate FAQs from your community online
  • Don’t stop publishing altogether
  • Publish updates ‐ show the community you’re listening. Telling your community that you are aware and you're trying to make it right. Assess the schedule and take control of the conversation. Its up to you figure out when he conversation begins.
  • Use popular vernacular (E.g., #refineryfire vs. #Richmondrefinery) . We had an accident at a refinery in Richmond, CA.
  • Redirect paid search to broaden message. Make sure that your updates are easy to find. This is a great opportunity to make sure that our messages are part of that conversation.
  • Capture and post response updates via video. We actually had accident that under water cameras that was showing how to make repairs. But we showed how this was happening.
  • Don’t overexpose an incident . This is very important to know when a crisis. – is actually a crisis. Make sure you have a crisis on your hand.
  • Implement appropriate targeting or cancel digital advertising
  • Capture relevant screenshots of the incident for later
  • Don’t have local channels that can’t be accessed by central team

11:32 — Olivia: Learning from a crisis — we love a 360 review.

  • Hold a port-mortem/360/lookback review.
  • Capture areas of opportunity or gaps in your response. Make improvements to your process.
  • Update your checklists, play-book and process docs.
  • Create a simple 1-2 page case study as a teaching tool.This can be a few page slide deck… and take screen shots.


Q: Do you use a social media command center?

A: Olivia: We don't have a social media command center but we do have an agency partner. But they have key phrases that they are monitoring. In our organization if we do have an accident we do have a conference and set up daily call.

Q: How do you manage those folks who know social well. when they see one or two tweet. How do you educate that importance of severity of crisis?

A: Olivia: I work in an organization where we take a measured approach. We know key drivers to look for to make something look to the right or now.

Q: What advise do you give when to be transparent or not.

A: Olivia: At the end of the day it's your job (social media) to protect your organization. But, for legal reasons sometimes we have to follow those guidelines. And that goes a long way.

Q: When do you know when should it's time to get back to business after a crisis.

A: Olivia: I wish i could tell you a day after but there's no formula. But, it depends on the type of crisis. At some point you have to bring the conversation back to a balance.