I just read four articles about how to develop a social media strategy. Forbes. Hootsuite. Social Media Examiner. And I was stunned by what was missing from each article.
Not a single one recommends developing a response plan, which is the most critical component of a solid social media strategy.
A response plan establishes smart parameters for how to engage with online followers during an unexpected event. Which will happen. Seriously.
This is especially critical because online conversations can easily find a life of their own before a company can even figure out who should respond.
Incidents can range from the good (huge award), the bad (product recall), and the ugly (CEO scandal). These moments can't be planned on an editorial calendar, but a response plan prepares your social media team on how to respond when the inevitable happens.
Even if a message or communique hasn't yet been developed internally, at least knowing how to appropriately acknowledge comments that's in line with your company's voice (and legal policy) is critical. Establishing high-level parameters on how to engage in these circumstances lets you and your team find the happy balance between “token” engagement and a long silence before releasing a formal statement that took two weeks and four lawyers to draft.
This should be part of any social engagement strategy, and it’s something I learned early on in the PR/marketing world. A response plan allows you to anticipate your audience’s reactions and plan for the unexpected.