Social Media and Crisis Communications for PR People
1Social Media CrisisCommunicationsfor PR peopleA no-nonsense guide tocrisis communications andsocial media for PR peopleDr Paul MarsdenSocial PsychologistSocial Media Strategyhttp://viralculture.com
2 “If you lose money for the ﬁrm I will be understanding. If you lose reputation I will be ruthless.” Warren Buffett“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and ﬁve minutesto ruin it.” Warren Buffett
3Crisis communications is a core function of PR...
4Social media can help us do crisis communicationsbetter, faster and more cost-effectively
5Better crisis communications with social media - moreuseful, more responsive, more direct
6Faster crisis communications with social media -immediate distribution, real-time updates
8But social media can also trigger and facilitate crises
9Social media can trigger crises by causing crisesthemselves or by giving a voice to unheard detractors
10Social media can facilitate crises by agenda setting andhelping detractors to self-organise against you
11So crisis communications teams need to know how touse and deal with social media
12 Four Essential Tools Four Point Plan Wordpress (social media CMS) Manage Issues Twitter page Plan & Prevent Facebook page Crisis Response YouTube channel Post-Crisis ResponseSo here are four tools you’ll need and a simple four pointplan for effective PR crisis comms with social media
13The plan is built on the practical, tried-and-tested, peer-reviewed online crisis communications plan from IBM
14The Crisis Comms Toolbox: You’ll need Wordpress - yoursocial media CMS hub from which you will communicate
15The Crisis Comms Toolbox: You’ll need a Twitter page -to auto-post links to news updates and answer queries
16The Crisis Comms Toolbox: You’ll need a Facebook page- to auto-post links to news updates and answer queries
17The Crisis Comms Toolbox: You’ll need a YouTubechannel to host and post video news updates
18Setting up and connecting up your crisis comms toolbox Wordpress Wordpress Training: wp101.com, ‘Hub’ wordpress.tv. lynda.com Platform ‘Spokes’ Wordpress: Download the free Wordpress CMS from wordpress.org and do the famous 5 minute install into a directory on your website - follow video training Facebook - link your Facebook page to your Wordpress pages via a free service such as Networked Blogs Twitter - link your Twitter page to you Wordpress pages via a free service such as Feedburner YouTube - create a YouTube channel to manually post any video news for you to embed on your Wordpress pages
20Issues Management & Social Media (Overview) Assigning Resources Establishing Alert System Mapping Inﬂuencers Priortising Focus Engaging with Social Media Thinking Globally Drawing up Guidelines Training the Team
21Issues Management: Assigning Resources Assign resources – human, economic and technological – to social media issues management. Consider whether an external agency or service can be of help Get senior management buy-in to the importance of crisis communications and social media and secure resources Assign responsibility for social media issues management internally or to an agency, and allocate time Assign budget for crisis communications with social media, including issues management Empower whoever is responsible for social media issues to act independently and immediately JET (Just Enough Technology) Update infrastructure by installing Wordpress (social media CMS) on your website
22Issues Management: Establishing Alert System Establish an efﬁcient social media monitoring alert system to add to your online news monitoring solution Set up a social media ‘listening post’ and use as an early warning system for issues as well as insight generator JET (just enough technology) solution - use free Google alerts and Twitter search alerts to monitor social media Consider paid social media monitoring services Set alerts for your organisation, as well as key issues, personnel and brands mentioned with your organisation Manually monitor your Wikipedia page entries Produce a weekly management summary of mentions and sentiment in social media
23Issues Management: Mapping inﬂuencers Draw a full map of social media inﬂuencers (bloggers, journalists who publish in social media, group, page and forum moderators) noting their issues of interest or concern Do a Google and Twitter search for key issues and your organisation and industry to identify leading social media voices Generate a social media contact list, listing their name, sites and issues that interest or concern them Subscribe to their content Begin building relationships by commenting on their content
24Issues Management: Prioritising focus Prioritise your focus based on issues - on their probability of occurrence and their possible impact on the organisation List the top 10 possible events that could occur that would carry the most reputational risk to your organisation Score each out of 10 in terms of it’s likelihood of occurrence (0 not at all likely, 10 extremely likely) (= a) Score each out of 10 in terms of severity of impact on your organisation’s reputation (= b) Multiply a x b, and rank issues by score. Prioritise issues management activities by score
25Issues Management: Engaging with social media Consider starting a corporate blog to engage with social media users well before a crisis situation arises Install Wordpress in a folder on your site, and use as your social media news room - inviting comments, sharing and discussion Communicate on your blog in an appropriate social media style - social, conversational, realtime, multimedia, mobile, search-engine optimised Consider video-blogging with interviews and Q&As with staff, publish on blog and to your YouTube channel Automatically syndicate your posts to your Facebook and Twitter pages (feedburner / networked blogs)
26Issues Management: Thinking globally Think globally. Any local issue can today easily evolve, through social media, into a regional or a global crisis. An upset customer ﬂapping their arms in a far off land can cause a Tsunami where you are - think global, act global
27Issues Management: Drawing up guidelines Draw up guidelines on the approach, tone, and language that is appropriate for dialogue in a dynamic, social media environment. This will be quite different from the more formal and distant corporate tone and language used in traditional communications. Adapt communication by making it: ‘Social’ by enabling social interaction and sharing, ‘Conversational’ - informal and brief in style, ‘Real-time’ - live and on demand, ‘Multimedia’ - with images, video and sound, ‘Mobile’ - handset-friendly and location-aware, ‘Findable’ - using search terms people use Create organisation-wide social media guidelines, who - as employee - can publish what, where and when in social media - speciﬁcally referencing issue priorities (see appendix for template). Get senior management sign off, publish on your intranet, conduct training as necessary
28Issues Management: Training Train the team. Become familiar with how issues develop in social media Review social media issues management cases, and know you’d respond (see social media crisis timeline in appendix)) Know how to and “speak” in social media and understand the 6 principles - social, conversational, realtime, multimedia, mobile, search-engine optimised Learn how to use the four key social media communication tools - Wordpress, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube Know when to respond and when to ignore social media content (see next) Run regular scenario training using an internal training blog
29 Issues Management: Training Take reasonable Yes action to ﬁx issue Positive Negative and let customer know action taken No Do you want Assess the Evaluate the Yes to respond message purpose Does customer need/deserve more info? Can you add Unhappy Are the factsNo response value? customer? correct? Yes No Gently correct the No No facts Respond in Thank the Dedicated Are the facts kind and share person complainer? correct? No No Yes Explain what is Comedian Is the problem Yes being done to want-to-be? being ﬁxed? correct the issue Yes NoAdapted from US Airforce Let post stand and monitor
31Planning and Prevention & Social Media (Overview) Creating your Situation Room Evaluating capabilities Putting together Rapid Response Team Engaging specialists Updating Contacts Testing the plan Assigning Responsibilities Testing Monitoring Real-time Planning how to Respond Creating a ‘dark’ Crisis Blog Registering at-risk Domains Identifying Allies
32Planning and Prevention: Creating your Situation Room Consider developing your crisis manual online: it is easier to update and maintain than hard-copy, and it offers the possibility to include links to multiple sources of information and databases. It also allows communications actions such as e-mail distribution and point-and-click distribution of press materials Use a passworded Wordpress pages on your site, or install Wordpress on your Intranet Consider using these pages as your internal ‘situation room’ to be used by crisis management team members to obtain internal information related to the crisis, guidelines, plans, news reports, statements, contact information, etc.
33Planning and Prevention: Putting together the team Put together your rapid response crisis communications team and assign responsibilities Who will have overall responsibility - ensure they are empowered to act fast and autonomously in a crisis? Who will fulﬁl the communications tasks? Internal (Senior management, and staff) External (Publishing news updates on social media properties, Inﬂuencer Outreach (Bloggers/Journalists), Responding to comments and queries in social media) Ensure you have contact details of all rapid response comms team members, and ensure they understand it is a 24/7 responsibility
34Planning and Prevention: Updating contacts Update e-mailing lists, contact databases and site directories Email lists - rapid response team, staff, inﬂuencers Contact databases - rapid response team, staff, inﬂuencers Site directories - key sites to monitor during crisis
35Planning and Prevention: Assigning responsibilities Decide who will be able to publish what, where and how during a crisis, and get sign-off How will your social media policy change in the event of a crisis? Consider only allowing crisis team to publish How will marketing communications change in the event of a crisis? Consider pausing any marketing messages
36Planning and Prevention: Testing monitoring real-time Check whether the regular media monitoring service is fast enough to follow the crisis, especially for online media outlets. Can your traditional and social media monitoring report on a half daily or even hourly basis?
37Planning and Prevention: Planning if/when to respond Draft guidelines to respond quickly to web-based rumours Use the social media response plan to decide whether to respond Respond when rumour source is inﬂuential, has a large online readership If you can’t provide clarity or help, do not respond Be courteous, human and helpful - but do not debate, point people instead to your own site for the response Rumours spread when there is an informational vacuum, informational ambiguity, and a lack of informational authority, so provide clear authoritative and helpful information to quell rumours
38Planning and Prevention: Creating a crisis blog Create hidden or ‘dark’ blog on your web-site to be used in case of a crisis to update all constituencies about the issue Use your Wordpress directory to create a crisis blog (web- log) that can be made visible in the event of a crisis. Have a web agency do this for you if necessary Create a pre-formatted page template, with an area for news, key contacts, useful links and resources and get sign off from senior management prior to any crisis Use Google adwords to build list of keywords (negative and positive) to use in the crisis blog for SEO/SEM (Search Engine Optimisation/Search Engine Marketing) Assign budget for promoting your crisis blog with SEM (Google ads)
39Planning and Prevention: Registering at-risk domains Register domain names, including those with negative connotations, that could be hijacked by activist groups CompanyNameDisaster.com/net/org CompanyNameSucks.com/net/org SueCompanyName.com/net/org CompanyNameFail.com/net/org
40Planning and Prevention: Identifying allies Identify relevant third-party organisations and individuals (e.g., bloggers) that could act as allies and can provide a balanced view in the case of a negative audience debate. Engage with them in advance. Use the fruits of your inﬂuencer outreach activity in Issues Management to identify and engage with friendly third- parties
41Planning and Prevention: Evaluating capabilities Evaluate your in-house capabilities to develop graphic, video, and audio ﬁles that could be quickly distributed online, whether they are simple digital pictures or more elaborate podcasts. Purchase the necessary equipment or think about outsourcing these services. Ensure you have a digital video camera, regular digital camera and audio recorder, and know how to use it Know how to use basic media editing software (iPhoto, iMovie, Audacity) If outsourcing, contact providers and purchase emergency media production capabilities
42Planning and Prevention: Engaging specialists Consider whether you need your traditional PR ﬁrm to do online PR and social media or you need to hire a separate PR ﬁrm or partner. Ask to see the crisis communications plan of your traditional PR ﬁrm (their own, not what they sell) to evaluate their capabilities
43Planning and Prevention: Testing the plan Test the crisis plan. Scramble your rapid response communications team out of hours at least once a year and run an extending training scenario. Debrief the team on what they did, and discuss what they could do better.
45Crisis & Social Media (Overview) Scrambling the Team Monitoring in Real-time Going Public Updating Staff Getting Visibility Reaching Out Showing a Human Face
46Crisis: Scrambling the team Scramble your Rapid Response Crisis Communications team, and alert senior management to the crisis that is unfolding Ensure everybody is present, in contact with each other and knows what they need to do
47Crisis: Monitoring in real-time Ensure monitoring services are aware of the crisis situation and that they report electronically all outcomes as they appear Before responding, use monitoring data to understand how people are responding to the situation, what is being said and why
48Crisis: Going public Go public as soon as possible by making your crisis blog visible with latest information, updates and instructions Place an obvious link to your crisis blog on your home page as soon as possible Keep information true, helpful and brief. Explain how you are resolving the situation. Respond to legitimate questions honestly - this is not the time for PR spin. Acknowledge the emotional dimension of the situation “We understand/realise this is frustrating, confusing...” Update crisis blog regularly, at least every hour in acute phase of crisis, conﬁrming when the next update will come Update blog with links to reputable third-party sites or people who are favourably covering the issue.
49Crisis: Updating staff Update staff on the situation, and on any changes to traditional and social media communications during the crisis Keep staff updated as a matter of priority, and ensure they are aware of the crisis blog As appropriate advise a temporary black-out on marketing communications, social media and PR during the crisis
50Crisis: Getting visibility Use search engine marketing (Google Ads) and search engine optimisation (using search words) to improve the visibility of your crisis blog. Buy Google search display ads for search terms related to the event, linking to your crisis blog Use search words, even if unﬂattering (Eurostarfail) in the title and copy of your news updates increase Google visibility
51Crisis: Reaching out Reach out to key social media contacts (bloggers, journalists, page/forum moderators) by email and text with a personal message and a latest update, pointing them to your crisis blog Respond to their queries as a matter of priority Link to any favourable coverage as a result of the outreach
52Crisis: Showing a human face Get CEOs to personally address visitors to your crisis blog (post, video post) Give your organisation a human face with an interview or post Record any media interviews and post transcripts to your crisis blog
55Post-Crisis: Tracking and monitoring Continue tracking the issue by monitoring social and traditional online media, during the months – and even years – to come Update the keywords you monitor to include those related to the event Continue to respond to legitimate questions and anxieties by showing what - practically you have done, and are continuing to do to put it right Be truthful, be compassionate, move on
56Post-Crisis: Thanking everyone Thank those who helped the organisation during the crisis. From a social media point of view, this could include ‘thank you’ posts on blogs, through contact forms or personal e-mail messages Your colleagues Your team Your customers - for their understanding Third-party bloggers and journalists Your investors - for their support
57Post-Crisis: Updating content Update the company’s online properties appropriately, editing or updating any legacy content Don’t try and rewrite the past, you can’t Consider leaving your crisis blog online with a public thank you to your customers and to all those that helped Update your company’s Wikipedia page to acknowledge the incident
58Post-Crisis: Rebuilding reputation Deﬁne the strategies and tactics at play to rebuild the company’s reputation: from in-depth analysis of online content and opinion leaders, to online chats with the most active bloggers. Understand how your reputation has been damaged and what you need to do to repair it Know that it’s actions not words that will repair your reputation - so put it right
59Post-Crisis: Evaluating actions Evaluate what happened and how the organisation responded, so that the crisis plan and all the online-related measures could be properly adapted. Run a debrief session with all parties involved to ﬁnd out you can learn from the event to improve your crisis communications
60 DR PAUL MARSDEN SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGIST SOCIAL MEDIA STRATEGY LONDON PAUL@VIRALCULTURE.COM @MARSATTACKS +44 777 95 77 248I’ll look forward to helping you apply the plan in the ‘SocialMedia for PR People’ course. Enjoy. Share. Proﬁt.
62Social Media Crisis Timeline September 2004 A Kryptonite lock is picked apart by a blogger with a Bic pen. First blogs, then the New York Times amplify the feat as the company fails to respond. Social Relevance: Viral effect costs $15 million in product recalls. June 2005 L’Oreal is skinned alive by the ﬁrst big fake blog ﬁasco Social Relevance: The ﬁrst demonstration that ﬂashy advertising values don’t work in social media. August 2005 Jeff Jarvis invents “angry blogger slams customer service syndrome”. Hundreds of others blog about similar shoddy Dell customer service. Social Relevance: Dell is one of the ﬁrst companies to learn that, in social media, you ignore your customers at your peril.
63Social Media Crisis Timeline April 2006 Chevy’s Design your own Tahoe competition loses its big end to crowdsourced complaints. Social Relevance: A big brand learns ﬁrst-hand it has no control when it comes to social media marketing. June 2006 Dell’s reputation goes up in smoke after leading tech blog Gizmodo publishes photo of exploding laptop. Social Relevance: The power of a single image that spreads online. Dell forced to recall more than 4 million laptop batteries. June 2006 Diet Coke and Mentos – Who knew? This was one of the ﬁrst YouTube memes, copied numerous times and with millions of views. Social Relevance: Coca-Cola hated it and complained but later came to embrace social media. “Our consumers control our brand” became its mantra.
64Social Media Crisis Timeline June 2006 Asleep at the wheel: Comcast technician becomes poster child for poor customer service. 1.3 million view the video. Social Relevance: Comcast humiliation caused a change in priorities. Soon becomes industry leader in Twitter customer service help. August 2006 Starbucks is hit by a satirical attack on the price of Frappucinos as it ﬁghts accusations of unfairly treating Ethiopian coffee workers. Social Relevance: Videos like this highlighted Starbucks was losing touch with customers. Starbucks decides to make social media a priority. October 2006 Folksy “Isn’t Wal-Mart great” travel blog “Wal- Marting Across America” hits a reputation pot-hole when unmasked as being paid for by company. Social Relevance: Black eye for Wal-Mart amid accusations that it was trying to shift attention away from criticism of its labor practices.
65Social Media Crisis Timeline December 2006 Sony sets new low standard for fake blogs with “All I want for Xmas is a PSP”. They even made a memorable video, now infamous. Social Relevance: Digital egg on face. PSP fans are outraged at being patronised. Sony issues social media mea culpa and pulls campaign. January 2007 Valentine’s Day: Jet Blue passengers are stranded for up to 8 hours on runway. They ﬁlm and blog their ordeal. Social Relevance: Jet Blue understood how its reputation was being hurt online and so CEO David Neelman quickly crafted a YouTube apology. February 2007 Taco Bell suffers the ultimate PR horror, rats taking over one of its Manhattan chains. And a local TV news crew was there to document it. Social Relevance: Rodents in the kitchen making local news isn’t exactly new. But 1.2 million views on YouTube? Global embarrassment and one still viewed
66Social Media Crisis Timeline March 2007 Greenpeace “punks” a Kleenex TV ad to protest Kimberly-Clark’s clear-cutting of ancient Boreal forests. Social Relevance: A 5-year campaign really took off once Greenpeace made its message social. In 2009, Kimberly-Clark changed its sourcing policies. November 2007 Molson’s ﬁrst Facebook campaign backﬁred. Who could guess “ Show everyone how you and your crew get the party started!” would encourage photos of binge drinking? Social Relevance: Be careful what you ask for when associating your brand with unfettered Facebook content. Sobering lesson. February 2008 GM, fast on the heels of its pioneering Fastlane Blog, launches a social network site, GMNext. Its “green” section is pilloried by green activists. Social Relevance: Caught in the headlights of consumer ire, GM smartly engage its critics admitting some problems and responding on blogs and forums.
67Social Media Crisis Timeline April 2008 Unilever’s Dove ﬁnds itself on the receiving end of an aggressive Greenpeace social media campaign against palm oil- driven deforestation. Social Relevance: Understanding the power of compelling, shareable content Greenpeace uses YouTube to stoke consumer ire against the largest palm oil buyer. June 2008 JCPenney’s “Speed Dressing” ad wins a Bronze Lion at Cannes. Just one problem: Neither the retailer or its ad agency claims to know anything about it. Social Relevance: In social media, content never dies. When the makers of the faux ad put it online and JCPenney disowned it, Speed Dressing’s fame was bound to grow.
68Social Media Crisis Timeline August 2008 ExxonMobil isn’t known for its social media chops. Hence the surprise to see it start a Twitter feed. Especially as the oil giant knew nothing about it. Social Relevance: In one of the ﬁrst cases of Twitter-squatting, “Janet” showed one of the world’s biggest companies that it couldn’t ignore social media. November 2008 Motrin’s sassy commercial aimed at Moms backﬁres spectacularly after a Twitter-army of motherly discontent swarms. Johnson & Johnson apologies. Social Relevance: A small group of inﬂuential Tweeters uses the social media megaphone to noisy effect. Twitter, it seems, really can give you a headache.
69Social Media Crisis Timeline February 2009 The last straw: PepsiCo’s Tropicana rebranding gets pulped following an outraged online reaction by its traditional fan base. Social Relevance: Beware the focus group. PepsiCo’s research hadn’t anticipated the level of anger coming from its most loyal customers. The ﬁasco cost $35 million. February 2009 Skittles embraces social media by ceding control of its site to customer chatter. Talk about making a hashtag out it as air turns blue with obscenities. Social Relevance: Social media “experts’ preach “Be where your customer is”. But that doesn’t mean give up your brand. Bold social media FAIL. February 2009 Target shoots itself in the foot when it refuses to talk to a blogger because it claims Target customers don’t read blogs. Social Relevance: Who has inﬂuence in today’s social media world? Target took a very old-school view of things but forgot that the MSM didn’t share its outlook.
70Social Media Crisis Timeline February 2009 Louis Vuitton threatened to sue the young designer who created this Darfur charity T-shirt claiming IP infringement. Blogs and Facebook had a ﬁeld day. Social Relevance: In the old days, aggressive lawyering might have been a deterrent. In today’s social media goldﬁsh bowl it looks like corporate bullying. April 2009 In the wake of an employee gross-out video that spread virally on YouTube, Domino’s USA president takes a leaf out of JetBlue’s book and issues a social media apology. Social Relevance: Once crisis comms was handled by press releases and carefully co-ordinated TV interviews. Now the discourse plays out online in real time.
71Social Media Crisis Timeline June 2009 Habitat seemed to be getting the hang of the Twitter thing– until it was caught promoting new products using hashtag spam, including the Iranian election. Social Relevance: Twitter may be a new medium but you shouldn’t relinquish control of your corporate communication to “an over enthusiastic intern”. #FAIL! July 2009 United Airlines handles hundreds of lost and damaged baggage complaints each year. But aggrieved Dave Carroll went viral with his ballad of a broken guitar. Social Relevance: United had 9 months to placate Carroll before he penned his protest song. Instead they were confronted with a backlash millions empathised with.
72Social Media Crisis Timeline August 2009 Dooce blogger Heather Armstrong couldn’t get Maytag to ﬁx her washing machine. She groused on Twitter to her 1m+ followers. Maytag rapidly dispatched a repairman. Social Relevance: Armstrong’s Twitter clout was far more inﬂuential than Maytag’s own social media presence. A case of supposed corporate power turned on its head. October 2009 From the Dept. of “It seemed a good idea at the time.” PepsiCo quickly pulled this AMP iPhone app aimed at young guys after it was lambasted on Twitter as sexist. Social Relevance: The desire for social media to magically connect with the youth audience is fraught with danger for brands. This idea didn’t get to ﬁrst base.
73Social Media Crisis Timeline February 2010 Another month, another twitter ﬁasco. This time it’s a rogue homophobic employee. Social Relevance: Social media is often delegated to junior employees because they “get it”. Doesn’t mean they can understand how to protect a company’s reputation. February 2010 Southwest Air’s “Customer of Size” policy receives a high-proﬁle roasting when the airline targets director Kevin Smith and he tweets his experiences. Social Relevance: Forcing obese passengers to buy an extra ticket had taken a back seat on the news agenda until Smith’s tweet to millions hit the headlines.
74Social Media Crisis Timeline February 2010 British retailer Paperchase gets hammered by an artist who claims in her blog that the company has plagiarised her work, and rebuffed her ofﬂine complaints. Social Relevance: Unlike many big corporates, Paperchase had no social media presence prior to this attack. Social media swarms can hit mid- level companies too. February 2010 Greenpeace targeted Nestle but only when activists besieged Nestle’s Facebook page and the company got aggressive and deleted posts did it become a global story. Social Relevance: Nestle’s inept social media community management made it look like an arrogant, tin-eared corporate to the public. Just what Greenpeace wanted.
75Social Media Crisis Timeline May 2010 8-year old kid sends cute crayon plane design to Boeing. Company responds with standard impersonal rejection letter. Kid’s father blogs it. Boeing apologises. Social Relevance: Boeing isn’t used to dealing directly with the public but nevertheless the age of replying with automated letters must surely be over. June 2010 BP spills millions of barrels of the oil into the Gulf of Mexico. Finds its online PR response clogged by Facebook outrage and a fake, hilarious Twitter account. Social Relevance: While BP spent £93m on ads, social media kept the pressure on. 350 “Boycott BP” Facebook groups formed and 188,000 followed fake @ BPGlobalPR.
76Social Media Crisis Timeline June 2010 Environmental activists tell Facebook to “unfriend coal,” a pressure campaign to get the company to ditch plans to build a new, coal-powered data centre. Social Relevance: As seen with the backlash over its privacy conditions, Facebook may be a social media leader but it continues to struggle with its own reputation. For this issue, it was forced to address environmentalists’ concerns at Davos in 2011. June 2010 Proctor & Gamble faces Mommy blogger groundswell over claims that Dry Max diapers cause rash and blistering. Social media storm prompts lawsuits and safety inquiries. Social Relevance: Pampers engages with social media, invites inﬂuential bloggers to P&G HQ where experts address concerns. Product safety inquiry ﬁnds no link to rash.
77Social Media Crisis Timeline September 2010 McDonald’s wasn’t overly concerned by this local TV ad made by a community nutrition group linking its burgers to heart disease. That’s before they took it to YouTube. Social Relevance: YouTube continues to make local issues global when they resonate with worldwide audience. It’s already been viewed nearly 900,000 times. September 2010 Greenpeace is using Hollywood’s playbook with its sequel strategy of shaming multinationals out of using Sinar Mas palm oil. This time Burger King capitulates. Social Relevance: In just 12 months Facebook has become a crucial communication channel for major brands, making them more accountable than ever to customer feedback.
78Social Media Crisis Timeline October 2010 Rainforest Action Network punks Chevron on eve of its “We Agree” do-gooder ad campaign with a series of ﬁctitious stories and spoofed Like-worthy press releases tarring the oil giant as an environmental menace. Blogs and legit news sites take the bait and RAN’s ﬁctitious “news” generates headlines (and buzz). Social Relevance: Who’s the villain here? This one will be debated for a long time. RAN may have won the day, but hoodwinking the bloggers and the mainstream media is no way to build credibility around your causes.
79Social Media Crisis Timeline February 2011 Evidently, Kenneth Cole didn’t get Habitat hashtag memo (Jun ‘09). The fashion house tried to cash in on the rising tide of #Cairo Tweets, using it to plug its new spring collection. Cole even signed off with his signature -KC. Social Relevance: Insensitive and stupid? You bet. Coming from the boss, this hashtag abuse shows a particularly ugly side of the brand culture. Within hours, hundreds vowed to boycott. Few were molliﬁed by KC’s mea culpa. February 2011 This is becoming a recurring theme in social media mismanagement: errant, out-of-character Tweets sullying a brand’s reputable Twitter feed. How could this happen? Hint: next month’s Chrysler gaffe could hold the key. Social Relevance: Turns out Red Cross do-gooders like a good brew as much as the rest of us. Odd that it comes amid desperate Tweets about fresh water and war crimes. Still, the online community brushed it off as “no foul.”
80Social Media Crisis Timeline March 2011 Did Chrysler really drop the F-bomb? Turns out, no. It was its social media agency charged with running the Twitter feed. Chrysler apologized on its blog and cut ties with the agency, which then ﬁred the foul-mouthed offender. Social Relevance: The whole groan-worthy story went from bad to worse when the ﬁred employee blamed the whole mess on “a bug in TweetDeck.” God, we hate those F*&^ing bugs! April 2011 Cisco stuns the tech world by abruptly killing off the Flip video cam. It then pulls the plug on all communications on Flip’s Facebook and Twitter channels for more than a week, leaving disappointed fans seething. Social Relevance: File this one away in the “how not to kill off a beloved product” ﬁle. The 300,000-plus fan base quickly turned on Cisco for leaving it in the dark for so long.
81Social Media Crisis Timeline April 2011 The personal details of 77 million Sony PlayStation Network users are stolen by hackers in a massive breach. Sony shuts down the online gaming network within days, but takes over a week to inform users they’re at risk, prompting Congressional investigations. Once-loyal fans turn on Sony on the PSN blog, Twitter and Facebook. Social Relevance: Sony’s social media channels become a ﬂashpoint for users’ complaints, leaving privacy watchdogs and tech-savvy politicians plenty of ammunition with which to grill Sony execs.
82Social Media Crisis Timeline July 2011 A high-speed train crashes in the Chinese region of Whenzou, killing 40, injuring 192 and seriously denting the nation’s faith in high-speed rail. When government censors order mainstream news to drop their coverage, the outrage ﬁnds a new home on Weibo (China’s version of Twitter) and forces tough responses from politicians. Social Relevance: Has China’s powerful censorship machine met its match? Viral amateur online video of the doomed train and probing Weibo posts force ofﬁcials into a rare, candid response of China’s rail safety record