Just scroll through your Facebook news feed and you will probably see a company suffering a social media crisis of some kind.  Today, negative news is shared as much as positive news and social media mistakes get scrutinised by the masses.

It’s not unusual to make mistakes: brands big and small can easily make mistakes on social media without a proper strategy in place – especially with social media’s nature of easily posting out to the masses in a click. But, once the mistake is done, it’s time to act, deal with the backlash and handle the situation carefully.

Social media fails come in all shapes and sizes, from mildly irritating to particularly outrageous. Take the Fyre Festival disaster as THE WORST example: the 2017 music festival was a COMPLETE humiliation that affected thousands of customers and received an insane amount of backlash – especially after they chose to promote it heavily through social media influencers.

The festival was essentially a social media con – so the negative feedback was well-deserved – and although we would love to get into that, we want to focus on the social media crisis that followed once people realised what was happening and how the company failed to deal with it.

In other words, we’d like to discuss ways to manage a social media crisis by doing the exact opposite of what the Fyre Festival team did.

Tips for dealing with a social media crisis:

Lesson 1:  Listen to your customers

After everything started to fall apart at the Fyre Festival and the social media crisis was starting to unfold, there was never a clear response from the festival organisers. When participants started tweeting their complaints, the festival team offered nothing but misinformation.

Participants emailed, tweeted and commented on the company’s social media accounts and the company just ignored them. Even after the famous sliced cheese sandwich tweet was posted, the company still didn’t try to respond.

Communication is a two-way street – so listen to what your audience is saying. To make people pay attention to what you are saying, start listening and responding to what they have to say ASAP.

Lesson 2: Catch the issues early on

The Fyre Festival is a perfect example of delaying things until it’s too late to rectify them. The festival team knew from the beginning they had no experience in organising events and even though they quickly got overwhelmed, Billy McFarland kept on pushing his team to cover up all their issues.

Participants were promised accommodation in luxury, eco-friendly tents which is something the team knew would be impossible to provide. The issues were there to catch from early on and if Billy McFarland had addressed the problems and changed the expectations for the festival, things would have been different.

The minute things start going wrong, your social media management team should offer support.

Lesson 3: Admit your failure

The social media frenzy didn’t stop there. As people arrived for the festival, they started tweeting their reactions and the company continued to ignore them.  When a mistake is made, there is a massive difference between denying the problem and taking responsibility.

Even in the worst cases, if you come clean, admit your mistakes and support those affected by it, you will still have a chance to save your reputation.

After an initial response is provided, you should publicly apologise and create an official statement on your company’s website.

Lesson 4: Don’t continue posting on social media

As the social media crisis continued and one disaster after the other was posted on social media, the festival organisers not only didn’t respond but they continued to post social media content that was completely different to the truth.

The team continued posting the same content they used to advertise the event in the first place, which made followers and influencers even more confused and angry.

If your company is going through a social media crisis, immediately pause all scheduled content until an official statement has been made and the storm has passed.

Lesson 5: There’s always a chance something might go wrong

Finally, just accept that mistakes happen and sometimes you can prevent them and sometimes you can’t. If you can act quickly and respond to your followers, then your company is already doing the right thing.

Dealing with a social media crisis can be tough, but the more proactive you are, the less vulnerable you will be on social media. Like we mentioned at the start, just do the exact opposite of what the Fyre Festival team did. And maybe don’t plan a fake event with impossibly high expectations.


If you need more advice on how to handle a social media crisis, please contact us by using our contact form, directly call us on  0191 4661455 or emails us at [email protected]