3 case studies in social media crisis management

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Domino's Pizza
Also in April 2009, Domino's Pizza received a crash course in how quickly isolated incidents can become a marketing crisis because of the speed and reach of social media. Videos of two Domino's employees in Conover, N.C. were posted to YouTube of them doing unsanitary things to food being prepared for delivery to customers.

Within just two days, the videos had been viewed more than a million times on YouTube, and discussions regarding the videos represented top search results for "Domino's."

Domino's was alerted to the situation on Monday evening, and by Tuesday it had dismissed the two employees in question and called in the health department. The company initially hoped the situation would quiet down on its own, but quickly saw comments and viewings increase and, to its credit, kept a close eye on the situation. By Wednesday afternoon, Domino's had created a Twitter account to address the comments and posted a video of its own on YouTube with a personal message from the company CEO.

It took Domino's 50 years to build a trusted brand, and within the span of a few days, because the crisis was broadcast to the masses via social media, consumer trust was jeopardized, and the brand was quickly tarnished. 

The Domino's you see today is not the same Domino's you saw a year ago. It matured quickly in the social media space because of last year's events and now uses social media tools to aggressively define and defend the brand. That more aggressive approach has also found its way into TV spots and traditional advertising. Thrown into the deep end of the social media pool, it came out with confidence and a powerful new stroke.

Lessons Learned: Domino's Pizza
Never underestimate the speed of social media. Domino's responded quickly by any standard, but it's also worth noting how much damage took place in the few days prior to its response. Word travels quickly and globally. Put your social media emergency response plan in place now so you're ready when it's needed. "In case of emergency, just tweet."

Be ready to learn through trial and error. Domino's demonstrated the way most are learning the power of social media in crisis management situations -- the hard way. They tackled it and have come out the other end stronger. The key is not to be afraid to jump in and learn.

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Jhinuk Chowdhury
Jhinuk Chowdhury April 6, 2010 at 1:40 AM

Nice article

Steve Lubetkin
Steve Lubetkin April 2, 2010 at 8:47 AM

For another perspective on social media and crisis management, visit www.professionalpodcasts.com for a podcast, newspaper column, and radio news wrapper short report on the recent NetTuesday presentation in Philadelphia, where researchers described the ways social media tools aided first responders in the Haiti and Chile earthquakes.

Steve "@PodcastSteve" Lubetkin
Managing Partner, Professional Podcasts LLC
@PodcastSteve on Twitter