Crisis management, Public relations, Social media, Twitter

Social media risk management

A few months ago I came across a really useful infographic about Social media triage. Credit to Charlene Li for this one as outlined here. Click on the image to view in full.

Steps to follow in a social media crisis

The first thing outlined in the diagram above is to assess the message. This means that someone has to be monitoring your brand. But are you?

Last year, there were many examples of companies that failed to monitor their brand and consequently were unable to react to a crisis in the time that social media users expect. Messages from people using Twitter and Facebook can spread very quickly and their reach can be enormous.

Here are some examples of crises that were managed well and not so well via social media.

Good social media responses

  • Harvey Norman ran a radio ad about photos with Santa at Christmas with a reference to lap dances. People found this offensive and voiced their opinions in Twitter. Because Harvey Norman were monitoring social media they saw this and the ad ended up being pulled four hours after the first Tweet. Read about it here.
  • Two Domino’s Pizza employees made a video of themselves doing unsanitary things to food being prepared for customer delivery and posted it to YouTube. Domino’s responded with a video of its own. While the Dominos response was good, it was perhaps a bit late.

Not-so-good social media responses

Harvey Norman and Domino’s both responded to the criticism positively and relatively quickly. They assessed the message, evaluated the purpose, and fixed what needed to be fixed. In Harvey Norman’s case, they took the radio ad off the air. In Domino’s case they responded with a video saying that the employees had been dismissed and that this was an isolated incident.

Qantas didn’t respond at all which just added fuel to the fire and while Nestle did respond, they responded negatively and defensively which impacted their brand negatively in both cases. Qantas should have responded more rapidly (and one would assume the company has put mechanisms in place to do that in future). Nestle shouldn’t have deleted Facebook comments or responded defensively to others. It should have used the criticism as feedback about its brand and made appropriate changes – which it eventually did, but not before the damage was done.

These case studies show that social media can spiral out of control, but how do you mitigate potential risks?

  1. Monitor social media. There are paid tools to do this but there are also free ones, namely: Google Alerts, Social Mention, Twitter search, Booshaka. Setting these up should cover most of your bases.
  2. When/if something does happen, take a deep breath, stay calm and respond to it using the social media triage shown above.
  3. Are you in the social media space now? If you have a crisis, what social media channels will you use to respond? It’s better to have engagement with followers who can become your advocates in a potential crisis rather than scramble to find them if a crisis occurs.
  4. Do you have policies in place for social media? If not, it’s worth setting some policies up so that employees know how to respond, if they should respond etc. Usually companies have some sort of communications policy or guidelines and the social media component can form part of these.

Have you had to deal with crisis that involved social media?

Hughes PR is a communications and public relations consultancy with proven and extensive experience in publicity and media relations, issues management, crisis management, digital media and social media strategy and implementation, community consultation, event management, media training, publications and strategic problem solving. Find out more.

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One thought on “Social media risk management

  1. Pingback: Why start a blog? « Jenny Clift

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