In the Age of Coronavirus: How Brands Manage a Social Crisis

Niraj Sharma |
 05/06/20 |
4 min read

  brands manage crisis covid

A brand crisis can begin in many ways – and most often it comes out of nowhere. Whether it’s caused by a marketplace disruption or a negative social media post, it pays dividends to have an agile crisis plan in place to help your brand adapt to the unexpected. And in the case of COVID-19, we’re seeing which brands were ready . . .

As society continues to battle COVID-19, every brand is in the midst of a social crisis. In our latest report, How Brands Manage a Social Crisis – we offer insight around how to come through the other side with as little damage as possible. A preview of the report follows.

Crises Spread as Fast as Pandemics 

A 2019 global crisis survey released prior to the global pandemic found that 69% of the 2,084 senior executives polled had experienced at least one brand crisis in the past five years. A full 95% of respondents expected to be affected by one in the future. Little did they know how quickly COVID-19 would come to test their crisis response plans.

In the age of social media, speed is of the essence in crisis management since negative sentiment online can steamroll a brand’s reputation – and its bottom line. Like when Nike got caught off guard last year when Zion Williamson blew out his shoe on the court for the world to see.


Their stock began to plummet – but Nike acted quickly and appropriately by putting their crisis plan to work immediately. It’s a great example of a brand taking control of the narrative and steering the crisis in a positive direction.

In the global market we’ve seen brands pivoting rapidly in the vacuum that COVID-19 has created. With businesses taking massive hits to revenue during the pandemic – it’s sink or swim for many. As such, we’ve seen distilleries switch to producing hand sanitizer, clothiers making masks and car manufacturers producing ventilators. Those that have a plan in place for crises are in the best position to adapt and overcome.

The sooner a brand notices a crisis emerging, the better. That’s why smart brand leaders use the power of next generation AI social analytics to mitigate crises or sidestep them all together. Make sure to check out the report, as it’s packed with the tools and tactics of successful crisis management so your brand can react similarly.

It all starts with understanding your baseline.

Baseline Metrics are Always Relevant 

Generally, the time for a brand to understand its baseline metrics isn’t in the middle of a crisis. And if they try, it’s a recipe for disaster.

However, we may very well be in the midst of a ‘new normal,’ so it’s definitely timely to reassess your brand’s metrics and calibrate them for what ‘normal’ looks like during the coronavirus outbreak.

In the NetBase product it’s as easy as creating a new benchmarking dashboard using the brand benchmarks/norms template(s) provided:


With the ability to evaluate key metrics over time, the benchmark dashboard enables you to see how your baseline metrics may have shifted. With your ‘new normal’ metrics in place, your social analytics will give you the most accurate temperature of brand health spanning a variety of important measures.


In the report we show you which metrics you need to be monitoring, and why they’re important. And also, how to make the most of influencer marketing – offering the best (and most under- utilized) tactics at a brand’s disposal.

Getting Your Influencer Game in Order

Whether they are mainstream, or specific to a niche, a solid relationship with influencers who are relatable to your brand is especially beneficial in times of crisis. Quickly getting the conversation back on track when things go awry is of upmost importance. And the right influencer can be just the ambassador you need to get your brand’s net sentiment out of the red.

However, it’s not enough to just form a partnership with a handful of great influencers and call it a day. New faces are cropping up all the time so it’s crucial to always be watching influencers. Sadly, many marketing professionals don’t even consider influencer monitoring. It’s super important to listen to known influencers and those with whom they engage in order to discover new candidates. That way you ensure that your brand doesn’t drift from the heart of the conversation as new influencers come on the scene.

This is as simple as creating an influencer identification theme from the dashboard templates which will allow you to assess your brand and/or category through insight into:

  • Top influencers by followers/visitors
  • Trending terms and hashtags popular among influencers
  • Most engaging/shared influencer posts and media


Since the field of influencers waxes and wanes over time, maintaining an influencer monitoring solution as part of your social media listening is a simple yet super smart way to ensure your brand’s health and relevancy.

These topics are just the tip of the iceberg to encourage you to revisit your crisis plan as we navigate the COVID-19 pandemic. And we cover many more in our brand-focused social crisis report to help you come out on top.

Be sure to take a look and don’t forget to put aside some time to reach out for your own targeted demo!

how to manage a social crisis

Join The
15,723 People
Who have subscribed to our blog

Sign up to receive the latest updates

Premier social media analytics platform

Expand your social platform with LexisNexis news media

Power of social analytics for your entire team

Media analytics and market intelligence platform

Enrich your media analytics with social data

Social media benchmarking
and competitive intelligence

Data streams & custom KPIs for advanced data science

AI, Image Analytics, Reporting Tools & more

Out-of-the-box integration with other data sources