You'd think the world would have had enough of silly love songs, but when Paul McCartney looks around, he sees it isn't so. I feel the same way about social media crisis management. By now it should be like the Heimlich maneuver: Everybody sort of knows what to do, even if you haven't actually had to dislodge a chunk of prime rib from your date's windpipe, and you're just hoping your skills never have to be put to the test.
But the topic is worth continually revisiting because we marketers learn something from each fresh crisis. It's an opportunity for marketers to check their crisis readiness while indulging in a little schadenfreude, which is a fancy German term for taking pleasure in the misery of others, and its social media equivalent, schadenfacenbooken, which is pleasure in watching someone else's brand get flamed on Facebook. (This is not to be confused with schadenfacenbooken der zuckerberg, which is pleasure in knowing that while Facebook's CEO is a 27-year-old billionaire, he's still a dweeb.)
Most advice on social crisis management quite rightly focuses on prevention because an ounce of prevention... you know the rest. I can recommend several good reads on the subject here and here, but my aim is not to provide an analysis of the barn door after the social media horses have escaped. Let's assume instead that the horses have already run amuck, are trampling the vegetable gardens, and that your CEO is calling to find out what you plan to do about it.
I'll outline four common crises in ascending levels of severity and offer advice on how to remedy them.
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"It's very rarely the best course of action for a brand not to respond at all, but the way you respond makes all the difference. "
Exactly! Companies cannot afford to bury their heads in the sand and wait for the social media fury to die down. Silence only fuels the flame. Customers expect interaction with brands, which means they want to hear from you! If something has gone wrong and you find yourself staring at a scathing review, you have to reach out to that customer and try to fix the situation and repair the relationship.
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1 The 5 types of terrible networkers
2 The top 4 consumer trends you need to know
3 The most meaningless (and hilarious) job titles on LinkedIn
4 The best social media campaigns of 2013
5 5 brands that were forced to apologize