A real and personal case study of a potential crisis management situation

I have been on Social Media a very long time. I’ve never been in a position where I have needed to be very careful what I said next… until recently. This is a real example of a recent situation and how I handled it. I’m also going to have to reveal something about me…

I’m going to have to start this by telling you something about me that very few people know; I’ve been a Samaritans listening volunteer for almost 3 years. Admitting it is key to understanding this post.

I’m also going to clear up a few things before I start…

  1. It’s not that I’m forbidden from revealing I’m a Sam, I just prefer not telling people.
  2. My tweets are unofficial but I tag the @Samaritans in the tweet so they can see what I’m doing.
  3. I only tweet about recruiting new volunteers because Samaritans could really, really do with more people!

What kick started the problem

I have a tweet and it is pretty much the same tweet I use on all my Samaritans tweets…

Sam's Tweet.

I’ve used this same tweet lots and lots of times. I am very careful with my words. I don’t go into what Samaritans can and can’t do. I simply ask for people to be there for others.

For over two years I’ve never had any negative feedback but I had one happen. A couple of days after I tweeted it this was this in my notifications…

Sam Reply

This person then tweets another few messages, getting more and more harsh of the service with each tweet.

Now I get that some people don’t like what we do, I know Samaritans are a listening service, we explore thoughts and feelings, we may explore options the caller may have considered. We don’t make decisions for the person calling, but will accept any decisions they do make. For some people calling Samaritans that isn’t what they want and they don’t like us because they want something outside of what Samaritans provide.

My decisions and response

So this tweet came late at night as I was about to switch off for the night. My first action was to not respond straight away. I was tired and I didn’t want to do anything that I’d regret in the morning. In this case it wasn’t necessary to reply straight away so I didn’t.

In the morning I was very glad I waited. I had a rough idea what I wanted to say but I knew I had to be careful because:

  1. I’m not the voice of Samaritans
  2. It isn’t my place to be drawn into this discussion
  3. I needed to be very polite in my response and offer a type of solution.

After a few re-wordings I ended up sending this one…

Sam's my reply

I wanted to be empathic and make the tweeter aware that they had tagged the right account (@Samartians) for assistance on their tweets. It also hinted that I wasn’t the right person to openly discuss it.

In the end the @Samaritans gave the tweeter the details on how to contact Samaritans to discuss any concerns. After the Samaritans gave the tweeter the answer they needed, the tweeter did try once more to gain my opinions but it isn’t my place to openly discuss issues they have with the Samaritans. My part in this was over with one tweet. I didn’t want to get drawn into a discussion because I know how that can turn out.

Sometimes you may find yourself in a difficult situation. This could have very easily turned into my first if I hadn’t of had a plan in place. It is really important that you have a strategy in place for any social media crisis management. Knowing what to do before it happens can really help your reputation and your business reputation.

 Samaritans could really do with a lot more volunteers. There are information and recruitment days throughout the year to find out what Samaritans is all about. If it is something you are thinking of doing please visit the national recruitment page or if you live in and around Torbay this is the South Devon Samaritans recruitment page.

Simon Day

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