Crafting Social Media Strategies That Enhance Crisis Communications – Part 2 of 3
This is a part two of the three-part guest blog featuring Chris Syme’s new e-book “Listen, Engage, Respond”. This addresses the important “What doesn’t work” for best practice Social Media strategies – the next will feature on “What does work.”
For a long time, organizations have had one set of social media strategies for business operations and another for crisis communications. The truth is, the right social media strategy will boost business, develop loyal fans, and set the stage for quicker crisis mitigation. In Chris’ new e-book Listen, Engage, Respond, she lays out a strategic social media blueprint that super charges every area of your marketing and communications, in addition to protecting you in a crisis. First, we’ll need to cover the basics.
The Five Models of Social Media Engagement/Loyalty
Why are loyalty models the golden ticket? Because any model that focuses on building loyalty moves your fans and followers from being mere consumers of goods and services to being advocates. I love the way Ant’s Eye View described this in a recent slideshow on the difference between influence and advocacy. The objective is to move your fans from “I like you” to “I love you” to “I defend you”. That’s what we’re shooting for in crisis communications—fans that will come to our defense.
There are many systems out there for building social media engagement, and the Listen, Engage, Respond system is based on best practices and streamlined for use in crisis communications. We’ll look at them from the least effective strategy to the best. As Chris Syme states, ” I wrote on the details of how to rate each strategy on my blog.”
What Doesn’t Work
The two most widely used social media strategy models actually have little or no value in building loyalty, but have substantial value in building a customer base and selling products. Because of those benefits, and the fact that they are easy to implement, many organizations never go beyond broadcasting and building reach. Both are easy to measure as well.
Broadcasting: You talk and people (hopefully) listen. You offer nothing to your fans but information you want them to have. Tactics-wise, comments are probably disabled on blogs and Facebook pages, you don’t re-tweet anything your followers have to say, and you only follow those that give you valuable information. If you do allow comments, you probably delete anything negative said about your organization. Your posts may be infrequent, and you may automate all your messages verbatim across all social channels. All you want to do here is give information with no real thought to how it’s being processed. Also, you’re probably not listening to the online conversations around your brand. Your measuring here is based on your output, not on interactions.
Reach: Here, your main focus is on numbers: building fans, followers, and likes. Your main goal is to increase the social graph of your organization. In traditional marketing, we call this “eyeballs”. Tactics-wise, the ability for fans to upload or post on your Facebook page may be disabled, but you do allow comments on what you post. There is occasional monitoring and occasional “liking” comments by the page manager. Your content is designed to get people to like, follow, and subscribe. There may be no specific calls to action for different stakeholder groups.
You may be using landing pages (like this page and…), follow-backs, Adwords, or Facebook campaigns to increase fan numbers. Your focus here is on number of followers, not necessarily getting them to respond. Your motto is, “he who has the most fans, wins.”
This is what doesn’t work. We will continue Chris’ strategies for Social Media in our next blog by looking at what does work.
Last week we talked about the Anatomy of a Crisis and how a crisis unfolds today in this crazy 24×7 digital world. In this guest post from the delightful and smart, Canadian-based, social media strategist, Melissa Agnes, we look at the symptoms of a social media driven crisis. Read on for some analysis from Melissa.
We’ve seen it countless times. Whether based on truth or falsehoods, the public picks up on a story, a situation, a statement and comments on it, tweets it, shares it and next thing you know, you’re in the midst of a social media driven crisis that has you feeling overwhelmed, stressed and attacked.
Sometimes you get lucky and have the opportunity to catch it coming and/or plan for it in advance. Oreo had this per-calculated opportunity when they decided to release their cookie image to Facebook, showing the world that they support gay pride. But often it’s the tell-tale signs that hit you fast and hard. That’s why it’s so crucially important for you to both understand the symptoms of a social media driven crisis, as well as to have your crisis communications plan developed and ready to go at the first sign of these symptoms.
So what are the symptoms? What should you be looking for and how?
The easiest symptom to detect is:
Negativity + Virality
If you notice a growing number of negative posts, comments and/or tweets circulating about your company or organization, whether on Twitter, Facebook, your blog or elsewhere, then this is the first sure-fire sign that there’s an issue that needs your immediate attention.
We’ve seen this countless times with tweets the likes of: #boycottChickFilA, #NBCfails, #tamu, and even more recently with: #legitimateRape, #ToddAkin and #Progressive.
There’s nothing faster than viral.
The speed at which a crisis can escalate on social media can be overwhelming. Within mere minutes of a simple mistake, you can watch your brand be scrutinized, criticized and attacked online. It’s for this reason that 24/7 social media monitoring is a must-do, no matter your organization’s size, reach or social media activity.
But monitoring is only half the battle. Once a threat is detected by your monitors, engagement and response are the only ways to begin to resolve it. The longer you wait to engage and respond, the harder it will be for your organization to regain control of the situation.
But how can you be sure which post, comment or tweet is severe enough to potentially go viral and develop into a crisis? What are the red flags?
We’ve all experienced negative criticism on our social channels and blogs. Though it’s typical for people to complain and voice their opinions, not every single complaint results in a social media attack or crisis situation. So how can your monitors be sure to identify the real potential crises, before they begin to go viral?
If we look at the recent Progressive crisis, all it took was one blog post to go viral and put some massive heat on Progressive Insurance, so much so that they were blogged about, tweeted about, scrutinized, judged and massively attacked online. Though this was not the first time someone blogged or tweeted about their grievances with Progressive, it was the time that it resulted in a social media driven crisis. So what were the symptoms?
Matt Fisher’s post had both a huge emotional aspect and a moral factor that the world could identify with; not to mention an intriguing and share-able blog post title!
These were the red flags that Progressive should have instantly picked up on and properly and sympathetically addressed and responded to.
So as not every grievance, complaint or negative blog post will result in a full on crisis, there are specific red flags that your monitors should be trained to identify and bring to your attention.
The following are some questions that will help identify these red flags:
>What is the emotional impact of the situation?
>What and whose morals and ethics may be on the wrong side of the fence, and how might the public react to it?
>What is the potential reach of the story? (Though this can sometimes be deceiving)
>How intriguing, catchy and share-able is the post, video, image and/or tweet?
>Can a quick and sympathetic response help calm the situation?
So, as I’ve said, monitoring is half the battle. Once a threat is detected, your monitors need to be able to assess the situation and determine which is a potential threat, and when your social media crisis communications plan needs to be put into motion.
Melissa Agnes is a social media crisis manager and consultant. She keeps a daily blog on the subject over at MelissaAgnes.com, is a co-host of The Crisis Show and the creator of The Social Media Crisis Academy, an online training course aimed at helping small to medium sized businesses and PR professionals develop strategic social media crisis communications plans. You can connect with Melissa on Twitter and Linkedin.
Editor’s Note: This is the fifth article in a week-long series about crisis communications. These posts were first posted on Brad Phillips’ blog.
To be fully prepared today, organizations need to adopt the thinking of sociopaths – thinking like paranoids in order to come up with “unpalatable and unthinkable scenarios.” The more bizarre the better.
Editor’s Note: This is the fourth article in a week-long series about crisis communications. These posts first appeared on Brad Phillip’s blog.
Rudy Giuliani became a household hero as New York Mayor on September 11, 2001. President George W. Bush’s slide began when he took three days to properly respond to Hurricane Katrina. BP’s Tony Hayward was sidelined not long after his, now infamous, “I want my life back” quote during the disastrous oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
I m delighted to feature a guest post from Brad Phillips , Author, Mr. Media Training Blog. Brad is a good friend of the book and recently hosted a five-part, crisis communication series on his blog, featuring exercepts from the book. His tips are excellent. Here is another. Enjoy.
In the late 1990s, I was a producer for CN’s Sunday public affairs program, Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer.
Because Late Edition aired after all of the other Sunday network public affairs shows, one of my tasks each week was to watch the earlier programs to monitor what politicians were saying. If a politician said something interesting, I’d edit a video clip out of the quote so Wolf could air it on the show.
I was always on the lookout for a politician saying something off message. Why? Because anything unscripted and off-the-cuff was inherently more interesting than the canned responses we always heard. And in a newsroom, a less scripted response will almost always be deemed more newsworthy.
Years later, I developed a name to describe that phenomenon: “The Seven Second Stray.” I call it that because if a spokesperson is on message for 59 minutes and 53 seconds of an hour-long interview but says something off message for just seven seconds, I can almost guarantee that reporters will select that seven second answer to play over and over again.
The seven second stray is deadly. Not only is it often damaging to your reputation, but it drowns out everything else you’ve said, becoming the only quote the audience will ever hear from your interview.
My choice of the word “drown” in the above paragraph is quite intentional. To help my clients prevent uttering an accidental seven second stray, I often use the analogy of a lifeboat.
If you’re facing tough questioning, I tell them, your message is your lifeboat. If you keep returning to your message and message supports – stories, statistics, and sound bites – it’s as if you’re swimming to the safety of the closest lifeboat. But if you stray off message, you’re treading water at best – if not drifting farther and farther away from the lifeboat until that inevitable (and entirely predictable) moment when you drown.
Case Study: BP
CEO’s Infamous Seven Second Stray
In April 2010, an oil rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, killing 11 men and injuring 17 others.
For 87 days, oil gushed from the seafloor, washing up on sensitive shorelines from Texas to Florida. The spill wrecked local economies, leaving tens of thousands of workers unemployed. Fishermen were left without seafood to sell, hotels were
left without guests, and restaurants were left without diners.
British Petroleum, the massive oil conglomerate responsible for the rig, took a daily beating in the press. The bad press had a devastating impact on the company: the oil giant quickly shed half of its worth, a loss of more than $100 billion.
As bad as the crisis was, the spill itself wasn’t responsible for the greatest damage to BP’s reputation. Rather, the
company’s inept response, headed by CEOthe Hayward famously quipped:
“There’s no one who wants this thing over more than I do. You know, I’d like my life back.”
That stunningly tone-deaf seven second stray, which slighted the deceased oil workers and newly unemployed workers, became a symbol of BP’s self-interested focus.
With just five telling words, “I’d like my life back,” Hayward reinforced an irreversible narrative of a clueless company that just didn’t get it – and just didn’t care. Mr. Hayward was forced out of BP shortly after the spill ended, but it didn’t matter. The damage to BP had been done.
Looking back, Mr. Hayward finally admitted the obvious: That he was unequipped to “deal with the intensity of the media scrutiny.”
Brad Phillips is the president of Phillips Media Relations, a media and presentation training firm based in NYC and Washington, DC. He is also the author of the Mr. Media Training Blog, the world’s most visited media training website.