Social media war rooms (and why you need one)

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Crisis communications in the Twitter age

You're midway through a successful launch when a flaw comes to light: Your product can be made to burst into flames. It only happens in the unlikeliest of scenarios, and no actual consumer incidents have been reported, but none of that matters right now. Here's what does: A video has begun circulating. It's dramatic, funny, and deeply humiliating for your company and your brand.

Over the next 24 hours, the video -- now titled "Deadly Fail!" -- will go viral. Twitter, YouTube, even your personal Facebook feed -- there'll be no escaping it. Your company page will snowball with jokes, complaints, and increasingly angry demands for a response, and panicked calls from product marketing personnel, retail partners, and investors will pour in. Already, the knives are out at Mashable, and Keyboard Cat is cracking his knuckles to accompany you on the homepages of Digg and BuzzFeed.

What do you do now?

Thanks to social media, bad news now travels at the speed of light through exponentially increasing channels, and a spark can become a firestorm in the time it takes to explain the situation to your boss. How do you keep a million posts and retweets from doing irreparable damage to your brand? Simply repeating the same canned statements through every available channel will only bring further criticism and mockery. There's only one way: You must fight social media with social media.

In this article, I'll show you how.



kinoshika rai
kinoshika rai May 4, 2010 at 12:15 AM

This is a wonderful opinion. The things mentioned are unanimous and
needs to be appreciated by everyone.
Golden ISA

Ari Newman
Ari Newman May 2, 2010 at 10:13 AM

Yes! I'm @arinewman

PATTI WERNER May 2, 2010 at 6:44 AM

ARI, i agree. are you on twitter? if not, you need to be.

Kim Williamson
Kim Williamson April 29, 2010 at 1:08 PM

Yes, whatever you do, use social media to fake out the public. Follow bad work with a well-developed con.

Ari Newman
Ari Newman April 29, 2010 at 12:31 PM

Thanks Kalyn!

Kalyn Baldwin
Kalyn Baldwin April 29, 2010 at 1:47 AM


Coming from the perspective of a community manager, such as myself, I couldn't agree with you more regarding your advice on preparing your social media war room. I am currently in the process of drafting a social media crisis communication plan and also an internal social media policy for our agency's employees. However, I am very aware that without our public relations experts and senior account executives, our "war room" wouldn't be efficient or possible. Just as a PR plan would involve predetermined crisis boundaries, delegated spokespersons, and and an equipped team of individuals who are capable of acting quickly and efficiently with proper etiquette and tact. I will be using your advice in the next steps of our agency's crisis communication plan.

Thanks again,

Kalyn Baldwin