Terrible events can happen for an agribusiness. Truck drivers can have traffic accidents, and crop inputs require precautions and attention to keep everyone safe. Because social media enables instant and broad sharing of negative messages, it pays to be proactive. “Having a strong crisis plan can manage social media in real time and even turn them into opportunities,” advises Peter Kerr, president of KerrComm, a business consulting firm that provides training for media engagement and public relations. “Otherwise, social media could be something that endangers your brand or company’s future.” Kerr suggests adopting the four-part approach on this page.

Manage Risk With Social Media

1. Develop a risk-management plan. Ask yourself: What is the worst-case scenario? Is it feasible to prevent it? Can you lower its probability? Don’t wait until a crisis is upon you, Kerr says.

2. Monitor online activity in real time. Tools such as Google Alerts, Social Mention, Topsy and Hootsuite can help you know if your business is mentioned online. Also set up alerts for variations of your brand name, key staff names or slogans.

3. Develop measured responses. When something horrible occurs, your response should be completely transparent or brief—but nothing in the middle, Kerr advises. Use the social media connections you’ve made to back up your story.

4. Sincerely apologize. This step is the most important, Kerr notes. With your apology, express remorse, admit responsibility, make amends and promise it won’t happen again.

This article appeared in the October issue of Ag Pro magazine

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