All-Star Social Media Crisis Response for Brands


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You’ve watched other brands struggle in the face of a developing online issue. You know you need a plan to handle a social media crisis swiftly and effectively, but where do you start?

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All-Star Social Media Crisis Response for Brands

  1. 1. All-StarSocial Media CrisisResponse for Brands
  2. 2. All-Star Social Media Crisis Response for BrandsTable of ContentsIntroduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3Chapter 1 /Rally the Troops ............................................................ 4Chapter 2 /Catch the Crisis ............................................................ 7Chapter 3 /Proactive First Response . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10Chapter 4 /Follow Up And Follow Through . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12Conclusion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13 2
  3. 3. All-Star Social Media Crisis Response for BrandsIntroductionIt’s the moment forward-thinking brands worry about: that momentwhen you are faced with your first online brand crisis. As a businessowner, you cringed as you watched the Twitter backlash againstMotrin’s ad about motherhood, or the online controversy over NBC’sOlympics coverage, and applauded Burger King for its swift action onthe viral photo of the employee standing in food bins. What can youlearn from their mistakes and successes?There are many things you can do to set yourself up for success in a time of brand crisis online. Learnto monitor insights and brand sentiment in real time. Create a clear action plan. Designate responsibilityto members of your team in advance. Go through your response drill once a quarter to keep it fresh.Have the skeleton of a response to any crisis prepared in advance.By creating and sticking to a crisis management plan, you will be ahead of the game and readyto handle any brand crisis the moment it hits. A crisis doesn’t have to be a surprise. This ebook isdesigned to help you create an all-star social media crisis response plan for your brand. TOOL Blueprint to All-Star Social Media Crisis Management 3
  4. 4. All-Star Social Media Crisis Response for BrandsChapter 1 /Rally the TroopsHaving people, processes and plans in place to handle your potentialsocial media crisis is a crucial first step. Being prepared in advance andreducing the element of surprise helps you pivot and handle any crisiswith agility and grace. For a large brand, timely responses can makeor break how a crisis unfolds. Preparation will make sure your branddoesn’t miss a beat.Begin with an organizational chart that documents how information should flow through the companyand out to the public. Each person on the chart should have both their responsibilities and theircapabilities clearly outlined, with clearly-listed contact information and a substitute responder in caseof vacation or absence. The chart should direct the first crisis responder to the appropriate personaccording to the nature of the crisis itself. TIP Download this Marketing Cloud sample organizational chart for crisis management.Before the chart kicks in, your business needs to get the staff together and agree on what wouldconstitute a brand crisis in social media. Including all departments in the process makes your responsebetter and more fluid when the crisis actually hits — everyone will be on the same page. It also makessure that you don’t miss anything that could develop into a crisis. Because customers use socialmedia networks how they want to, and not how brands want them to, a potential crisis could touchon any department, even accounting or human resources. This should be an all-hands-on-deck crisisresponse plan.After brainstorming possible points of crisis for each department, assess the abilities of each staffmember and assign their duties accordingly. Are they fantastic at metrics and analytics? Video? Twitterand Facebook? LinkedIn? Blogging? Email marketing? Do they have a golden rolodex of excellentpublic-relations contacts you can tap if the crisis spills past your defenses? Make sure all of theseabilities are listed so your social media crisis management team is seeded with your rock star socialmedia performers from every department. TIP Cross training your response team over time will increase the strength, speed and agility of your brand crisis management action plan, and close any gaps that might occur from vacations or staff change 4
  5. 5. All-Star Social Media Crisis Response for BrandsAssess your social networks as well. Make sure you are already operating at full disclosure andtransparency as appropriate for your industry. Are you disclosing the staff manning each accountand using their initials in updates and posts so people can identify with the brand representative theyare talking to? Do your inactive outpost networks direct people to your active networks and yoursite or blog?Have you made sure your company profiles are not only branded, but also accurately reflect when andwhich networks you are active on, and when, to set expectations? For example, you may notice thatthe Marketing Cloud Twitter accont, @marketingcloud, clearly discloses staff affiliations, provides staffphotos in the Twitter background, and clearly states availability in the bio.If your assessment reveals weak links in your staff abilities or shows holes in your online brandrepresentation and transparency issues, take the time to train your team, set social media guidelines,and clean up your social networks. Weekly and monthly housekeeping checks on staff training andsocial network branding and information will go a long way to preventing a crisis from escalating. TIP Read our ebooks The Building Blocks of a Sound Social Media Policy and Training Your Company for Social Media.Having these things in place is a great start, but you can do more. Other crisis managementtools include templates for possible responses required. One such template that is often used forlarger brands is the “dark website.” This is simply an unpublished website held in reserve for quickmodification and upload in a time of crisis. It should be boilerplate that has room to be customizedat the last minute to address what the crisis actually is. The customization should reflect not only thebrand, but also the social networks where the crisis is taking place. 5
  6. 6. All-Star Social Media Crisis Response for BrandsThe most famous of all dark websites: After Steve Jobs died, Apple honored its legendary founder andCEO with a full-screen tribute on the homepage.Don’t stop at having a crisis management website template at the ready for a rainy day; get othercontent ready and in reserve as well. Have scripts you can modify and expand for videos, podcasts,blog posts, tweets and more. Social media moves fast — it’s better to have content to address thecrisis that you can modify rather than having to spend extra time reinventing the wheel. Just don’t forgetto modify it! Sending out boilerplate content accidentally can make a crisis worse. Include contentrevision in the practice drills with your team. TIP Reply and respond to the crisis first where the crisis began! If the crisis erupts on YouTube, the first response should be from your video guru from the department most closely tied to the crisis subject, not a Facebook post. Yes, all social networks will get involved over time, but do appropriate triage at the start. 6
  7. 7. All-Star Social Media Crisis Response for BrandsChapter 2 /Catch the CrisisPart of the crisis management challenge is ensuring that you areaware of any crisis from the moment it develops. By using reportsand monitoring via tools like Salesforce Marketing Cloud and GoogleAnalytics together you will help your brand catch and address anyrumblings early on. It’s also important to know what topics to monitor tomake sure you are getting a complete picture of your brand online. TIP Using two tools - such as Salesforce Marketing Cloud and Google Analytics - makes sure you have your brand bases covered no matter where someone mentions you. Salesforce Marketing Cloud is one of several fantastic tools for social and topic mentions and Google Analytics is a powerhouse analytics program for monitoring sentiment and mentions related to your site and ads. Use their custom reporting and listening features to practice deep listening.When setting up your crisis awareness reports, use your initial assessment of potential crises foreach department as your first reference point. Collect the keywords and keyphrases from each of thepotential crises listed and use those to set up topics, goals and campaigns. These are designed toalert you to a crisis when it breaks and to monitor its level of severity as you go. Do a weekly or monthlyassessment of the data you get from these reports and adjust the keywords and other informationover time according to what data you are able to gather. Make sure you have set these reports to bedelivered to your email inbox so you don’t miss a beat.CASE STUDY No one is in crisis mode as often as the American Red Cross, which responds to 70,000 disasters a year. Their Digital Operations Center, powered by Dell and Radian6, is the central location for all of their disaster relief efforts, allowing them to respond in real time, assist citizens in their time of need and help them better direct their resources. Watch the video 7
  8. 8. All-Star Social Media Crisis Response for BrandsWhen monitoring from the viewpoint of crisis management, it’s important to consider sentimentanalysis. The tools for sentiment analysis are getting stronger every day, but as a field in its infancy, it’skey to your success to keep a human eye involved in sentiment analysis as a back up. As part of yourbi-weekly routine, in addition to your automated sentiment reports, do some hand-culling of the dataand make a human analysis to make sure the algorithm didn’t miss anything (positive or negative). TIP Don’t jump on a trending topic without checking out why it is trending! If the brand is trending because of a tragedy, you will need to approach your crisis solution with great sensitivity. If it’s trending because of satire or parody, you will need to approach it with humor. To jump in with your defensive mode turned on may lead to greater issues. Be aware!As data rolls in on a developing crisis, it’s important to quickly get the crisis management teamresponse in action. The goal is to resolve the crisis with care, leaving a pleasant aftertaste in themouth of all who come in contact with the brand during the crisis, and resolve the crisis as quickly andsensitively as possible.At the first sign of trouble, go to the source as reflected in your report and seek the context of the crisis.Look for clues that tell you how and where it started, which topic influencers are causing the news tospread or to go viral, which social networks the crisis is occurring on first, and which department ismost directly affected. Take a moment to assess the general brand sentiment at the start of the crisis tohelp direct the tone of your approach.Pull out your crisis management org chart and get in touch with the brand representative that ismost appropriate based on department and expertise. Be sure to loop your CEO, IT department andmarketing team in as soon as possible so that they can get started making modifications to yourreserve content, making sure your servers stay up in heavy traffic, or in some cases, respondingimmediately (some crises really need a C-level response from the outset). Make sure the personresponding on each social network is gently directing people to the website and other content madeespecially for addressing the crisis, and directing people to email and phone support where appropriateas well. TIP A crisis may need C-level intervention or response if it involves legal issues or violations, employee misconduct, fraud or something similar. In these cases, the first response should come from the top. An example would be the Dominos Pizza YouTube scandal, which involved health violations and employee misconduct.Why direct people to an offline communication method like email? Well, you want to show that yourbrand is responding, but the actual resolution should be taking place outside of social channels.You may have to resolve the crisis according to individual circumstance, or you may have to offersomething you would not generally offer the public to resolve the situation. It may also be a legal orregulatory issue. 8
  9. 9. All-Star Social Media Crisis Response for BrandsIf you have to create a special resolution, having it offline not only keeps a record of it, it preventspeople from seeing the resolution and expecting the same offer in the future. (Most people online arecompletely on the up and up, but some people will cause a problem just to get a specific resolution).By getting your org chart and crisis response in action early, you will solve your crisis faster and getback on track for your brand before the issue has a chance to go viral.Download the Crisis Responder Directory template and customize it in Excel for your own use. 9
  10. 10. All-Star Social Media Crisis Response for BrandsChapter 3 /Proactive First ResponseYou may be noticing a trend in these recommendations toward aproactive first response. That’s the best way to get a jump on the issueand control, corral and calm the situation. Let’s look at some examplesof using metrics and analytics to nip a crisis in the bud, then using youraction plan to see the crisis through to a positive resolution. CASE STUDY American AirlinesFor a company that relies heavily on trust, a bankruptcy filing can produce a devastating brand crisisif not handled correctly. American Airlines used an effective, if limited, Twitter strategy to attempt tohandle the bankruptcy as it erupted in the news (though they weren’t as prepared for the debacleof Alec Baldwin’s huge Twitter following and his thwarted attempt to play the popular gameWords With Friends).Interestingly, the American Airlines social media strategy seems to fade after Twitter and their one-sidedbankruptcy and merger website section. Blogs have been alight with opinion and speculation on theirmerger rumors, as have forums and other social media outlets, but the airline seems to be missingchances to engage and turn the tide of public opinion online. The airline could still stem the tide ofnegative sentiment through blogging and increased engagement across the organization drivenby their metrics.This is a bold illustration of why having a social media plan in place that keeps the lines ofcommunication open across the organization is important for crisis management. American Airlinesneeds the kind of personal touch and involvement that could reassure their customers outside of theirliveliest channel, Twitter. It’s great to see a vibrant channel for customer service, but to have so manyopportunities to engage around a crisis topic missed on other channels seems a shame. A greatmonitoring procedure and plan would alleviate that problem. CASE STUDY FedExWhen a video of an employee carelessly tossing a package hit the internet, FedEx was faced with anexample of a C-level crisis response requirement. It was obvious with the speed of the response thatFedEx had good monitoring tools in place and had mastered listening for mentions of and sentimentaround their brand online. 10
  11. 11. All-Star Social Media Crisis Response for Brands FedEx VP Matthew Thornton, III, responded to the crisis promptly and with obvious outrage. His plain- spoken statement has been viewed over 500,000 times on YouTube. The swift video response was not only on the appropriate channel with an appropriate tone of humility coupled with swift action, it was delivered by the Senior VP of Operations. By quickly detailing how they had reached out to the customerand taken proactive action regarding the employee’s carelessness, FedEx diverted a potential crisisinto a rain of organic, customer-driven PR praising their crisis management skills and human businesstouch. You want your crisis management plan to be that effective. 11
  12. 12. All-Star Social Media Crisis Response for BrandsChapter 4 /Follow Up And Follow ThroughIt’s key to look to the future when responding to your brand’s social media crisis. Plan ahead for followup and follow through. Be the brand that cares enough about the people and customers caught upin the crisis to check back in with them down the road and make sure the resolution you reachedcontinues to work.Plan for follow-up content and contact to keep the issue from reappearing. Institute analytics thatcontinue to track the crisis and that alert you to repeat visitors to your site so you can apply techniquesusually used in re-marketing to continuing to ensure the crisis is resolved.Include your follow-up content in your engagement calendar as a natural part of your content marketingstrategy. Allow it to taper off in accordance with the monitoring reports. As you find the crisis dwindling,throttle back on the content maintenance plan and engagement plan. At some point you will find thatyour crisis has gone down in status from “emergency” to “maintenance” and so on until it becomes asimple “case study” that you can use in your marketing efforts to showcase the responsiveness, careand authenticity of your brand.Engagement should be handled a little bit differently than content. It should be part of your follow upplan, but more personal. Keep the main players in the crisis in your file so you don’t forget to checkin with them on a regular basis after the crisis has started to subside. This personal engagement willtaper off as well, but the important fact here is that the people affected by your brand crisis leave theirinteractions with you with a feeling of confidence that you took excellent care of them, whether or notyou were able to resolve the crisis in the manner they were expecting. TIP Set up a monitoring dashboard for keywords, customer names and user names that will help you follow up after the crisis is resolved. Having that report will help prevent the problem from recurring. 12
  13. 13. All-Star Social Media Crisis Response for BrandsConclusionIt’s clear from real-world examples like FedEx’s mishandled package and perfectly handled crisisresponse that a crisis management plan isn’t just a nice idea - it’s essential to the health of your brandin this online world. When information flows at the speed of light, you have to be ready to jump at amoment’s notice, with no time wasted on making decisions.By implementing a clear plan, assembling an all-star team at all levels and in all departments of yourorganization, learning to listen and monitor your brand for crisis signals, readying reserve content,knowing when to seek the help of outside consultants and tools, and sticking to the blueprint youcreated, your brand will be able to float above the muck and mud of any situation.”Have questions? Contact us:W E @marketingcloud T 1-800-NO-SOFTWARE 13