8 Tips for Managing a Social Media Crisis

How in the world could this have happened?!

8 tips for managing a social media crisisIt’s the middle of the night where you are but it’s early afternoon someplace else, where a group of angry customers is mounting an offensive against your brand. Negative videos have gone viral and a barrage of inflammatory tweets and Facebook posts are being hurled in your direction. Rage spills over to other social networks and influential bloggers are decimating your reputation. The social media crisis is quickly spreading, but you are silent.

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Crisis Management: Listen Up, Toyota and Tiger Woods!

The recent string of high-profile public relations disasters is impressive. Consider these, to name a few:

  • The Tiger Woods sex scandal
  • The Toyota safety debacle
  • Kevin Smith vs. Southwest Airlines
  • NBC’s talk show wars

All of these situations have one thing in common: the brands — be they companies or, in the case of Tiger Woods, a hybrid (personal brand + corporate entity) — failed to get in front of their PR train wrecks and effectively manage the resulting fallout. A late response can get a brand back on track, but damage control becomes an uphill battle.

These entities and their advisers would do well to watch this video from Tom Peters. Peters, co-author of the classic In Search of Excellence and a string of other excellent books, argues that the reaction to the problem often becomes more of a problem than the foul up would have been if dealt with honestly.

Tom’s mantra: Come clean and come clean fast!

The problem is never the problem. The response to the problem invariably becomes the problem. Make those responses positive, quick, and overwhelming.

Toyota… Southwest… Tiger… NBC… Are you listening?


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What Google’s Real-Time Search Means for Brands

Google recently announced a new search engine ingredient: Real-time search. In addition to traditional search results — Web pages, photos, videos, maps, blog posts, articles, and news stories — Google’s universal search now streams real-time results from Twitter and from public pages on MySpace, Facebook, and other sources.

Google’s real-time search is poised to have a significant effect on brands in the social media space. In the past, it may have taken several minutes for content to be indexed by the search engine. There’s no waiting period any more — the instant an item is posted and linked, it’s searchable via Google.

Here’s a quick demo video:

(If you can’t see the video, you can view it here.)

How Google’s real-time search impacts brands:

  • Every customer experience is public — and magnified. Everyone has the potential to be influential more than ever before. It doesn’t matter whether someone has thousands of Twitter followers or just a handful — they have the ability to impact the conversations around them, in real life and online. If a customer has a negative brand experience, they may vent to their friends and followers. Brands that are highly engaged in the social space will reach out. The brands that are not as engaged may let those issues linger and/or not even be aware that a problem exists.

This should be a wake-up call for brands vis a vis reputation management, since customer complaints can quickly become public. The issues that are communicated by customers are now searchable, and negative brand experiences may appear on the first page of a Google search for your company. Companies with a commitment to social media engagement, a solid digital PR strategy, and great customer service will reap long-term benefits.

  • Social media presences for brands and companies are now in the spotlight. Many companies are educating consumers, building relationships with their audiences, and being brand advocates in the social space. They are engaged in the conversation about their brand. Many other brands, though, are not engaging, whether it’s because they feel it’s too risky or because they lack expertise.

Companies of every size need to create an active presence on the social Web — it doesn’t make any difference if your social media monitoring efforts tell you that there are 9 or 900,000 relevant conversations each month about your brand, products, or employees. The more content a brand creates, the more frequently that content will appear in Google’s real-time search results. Your “social brand” is now front and center, with the potential to drive top-line results for people who are searching for your product. Maybe it’s time to rethink letting an intern manage your Facebook Page and corporate Twitter account.

  • Content will emerge  quickly through your audience. Remember that great viral video you created several years ago that you couldn’t get anybody to watch? It can now be found more easily.

A big part of social media planning revolves around content: What will your brand say, and when? How do your brand’s objectives inform the content of your YouTube channel? How will you promote your new Facebook contest? As brands work to develop sustainable content plans, it’s important that they keep their audience in mind — brands are dependent on them.

  • Search engine optimization (SEO) is now even more closely connected to social media. Up to now, SEO experts have been using social media like blog posts and YouTube content to drive organic search rankings, forge relationships, and generate backlinks. They’ve also been leveraging social bookmarking sites to drive traffic and links.

SEO will now play an even bigger role in real-time search. For example, hashtags will now appear in search results, and those tagged conversations can drive additional awareness and coverage of the tagged topic.

What other ways will Google’s real-time search impact brands? Please share your thoughts!

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Saturday Social Marketing Round-Up

Here are some great stories from this week about social marketing:

Integrating Social Media Into Marketing (Social Media B2B)
A big reason that we hear a lot about the shift to social media is that organizations are looking to reduce their marketing costs. Yes, leveraging social media can be far less expensive then a large scale print advertising campaign.

Marketing Generation Gap Threatens B2B Survival (Words Sell)
When marketing ideas that elude b2b leadership are patently obvious to young adults with zero training in marketing – you’ve got yourself a real problem. You’ve got a disconnect between what buyers want and what sellers think buyers want. Or, more precisely, you’ve got a disconnect between what buyers want and what sellers think they themselves want when they’re buying.

Why Are Marketers So Bad At Measuring Social Media? (And How Can They Get Better?) (Forrester Blog for Interactive Marketing Professionals)
The fact is, social media marketers are drowning in a sea of metrics. Every social platform and vendor offers its own metrics, and there are literally hundreds of ways to measure the success of social initiatives. With so many numbers to choose from, and so little insight into which metrics are important, it’s not surprising that marketers feel overwhelmed.

Ten Things Social Media Can’t Do (Advertising Age)
Amid the endless pronouncements about social media — often shortened to “social” these days by consultants trying to sound like they know what they are talking about — is the reality that social media is not a solution, or a sure bet.

How Twitter and Social Marketing Will Save the Movies (Jim Louderback)
Social media marketing was behind the biggest movie you’ve never heard of, the amazing Paranormal Activity, which took in $22 million last weekend, making it the highest grossing flick of the week, nearly double its closest competitor.

Best of 2009 (So Far): Social Media Marketing, Part 2 (MyVenturePad)
Social media, and discussions of its value for PR and marketing, have become ubiquitous. But which social media tool do marketers find most valuable?

Marketing in social media not off-putting to users (BizReport)
More research has added weight to the assertion that social network users are receptive to brand marketing messages in their various social environments and are happy to recommend products or services themselves.

10 Essential Social Media Blogs You Should Definitely Bookmark (Inspired Mag)
The social blog scene is getting pretty crowded these days and we cannot just stand here without releasing a new list. So give it up for the coolest social media & social marketing blogs out there.

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