Into every social media platform, a crisis will fall.

It’s inevitable, with human nature the way it is, the relative anonymity of the Internet and the ever-present trolls lurking to pounce on any mistake or perceived sleight. In fact it’s difficult to turn on the television or scroll through someone’s social media feed without hearing someone responding to—or creating some form of social media crisis.

What can you do if it happens to you or your business? To paraphrase a common saying: stay calm and carry on.

Have a policy. If you haven’t developed a social media policy for your site, your business and your staff, do so. Make sure it includes what is acceptable or not acceptable on your channels, and make sure everyone knows it. Make a link prominent. Many social media crises can be averted by removing inappropriate content—but to do that, you need a valid reason why.

Pay attention. The sooner you catch any potential issue, the easier it is to address. Frequent your own pages, set up notifications, and check out some social media monitoring sites to make sure something doesn’t slip through cyberspace.

Establish a crisis plan. It sounds like a drastic step, but it doesn’t have to be. The last thing you want to do is be caught unaware. Make sure your staff knows how to respond—and who to inform—if something bad happens on your social media feed. Include how you’ll communicate with staff (or if you need to) about the ongoing issue and attempts to resolve it.

Acknowledge the issue. If someone on your staff responded to a negative review inappropriately, say so. Don’t try to defend yourself, and don’t try to one-up them and trigger a ‘flame war’ of insults, personal attacks or anything else. Keep your responses short, polite and try to get the angry person offline, so you can handle the issue in private.

Pause your regularly scheduled posts. There are plenty of ways to schedule posts ahead of time, obviously, and most marketers take advantage of them. Nothing is more infuriating—or insensitive—during a crisis than seeing a happy meme or special offer advertised. Save them for when things settle down.

Your online reputation is important, so it’s important to handle any crisis, whether it be inadvertently created by your staff, yourself, or one of your regular users as quickly as possible. Make sure you have a plan, and don’t panic!

Have you ever had to respond to a social media crisis? What did you do? Let us know in the comments!