Digital Marketing, Social Media Case Studies, Social Media Strategy, PR 20, Social CRM, Social Media Marketing

4 Brand-Saving Recommendations for Social Media Crisis Management

social media crisis management 300x232 4 Brand Saving Recommendations for Social Media Crisis ManagementIs today your Domino’s?

Social media can both create and solve crises, and the incredibly fluid nature of social conversations requires brands to be on a constant state of readiness.

In April, two Domino’s employees created a foolish and disgusting video, and posted it to YouTube, setting off a firestorm of coverage on Twitter. It was quickly picked up by the mainstream press, which increasingly uses trending Twitter topics for story ideas like some sort of crowd-sourced, zeitgeist-obsessed, robo-editor.

After being alerted to the crises by their ad agency (who evidently were the only ones in the organization using social media listening tools), Domino’s set the crisis plan in motion, and with great swiftness issued an entirely credible press release.

But it didn’t work.

Why? Because the maxim of social media crisis relations is that you have to fight fire with fire. Communities in social media do not intersect as much as many corporate officers believe. It’s not like all the social media “types” are hanging out together in one place. It’s more like ancient Greece, with Sparta (the true believers of Twitter) and Athens (the larger, more rational Facebook) and other city states like MySpace, Linkedin, Ning, Flickr, YouTube, and dozens more.

When was the last time you read an actual press release via a link on Twitter? Blogger or traditional media coverage of a story that began with a press release, sure. But an actual release from a company? I’m not sure I’ve EVER read one on Twitter.

Domino’s big mistake wasn’t necessarily speed – they got the initial release out pretty fast. It was not understanding that you must react at the flashpoint, not around it. The Domino’s imbroglio ended only when the company created their own YouTube video response, accompanied with a new corporate Twitter account.

4 Lessons Social Media Crisis Management

In my social media consulting and training, I’ve been talking a lot about Domino’s and crisis management, and I’ve pulled out these 4 lessons that apply to all brands.

1. It’s Risky Business

Social media firestorms can cause real damage. A study by BrandIndex in the days following the Domino’s crisis found that overall, national perceptions of the chain’s quality fell from +5 positive to -2.8 positive. A huge drop in positive perception in 48 hours? For a multi-billion dollar company, that’s serious consequences.

2. You Never Know

One thing I can guarantee about Domino’s is that they didn’t wake up on April 15 thinking “You know, I wonder if a crazy employee will stick cheese in their nose today, and put it on YouTube?” You never see a crisis coming. That’s why it’s a crisis. Even if you choose to not engage proactively in social media at this time (although increasingly, your silence is deafening), you must at least be listening. Set up alerts and RSS feeds, subscribe to Radian6 or Spiral16 or some other listening software. Make it someone’s job to pay attention.

You do NOT want to be the last to know when the social media masses are trashing your brand.

3. Do Fire Drills

A major area where social media crises differ from “real world” crises (although one often begets the other now), is that most companies have not yet identified their communication protocols. If something unfortunate happens to your brand in social media, who in your company is in charge of identifying the problem? Who do they call? Who needs to be alerted?

The same way most companies have call lists and alert procedures determined for offline crises, you must develop similar processes for social media. Commit to having that plan in place by the end of this quarter.

4. Prepare to Create

Because the best way to mitigate social media crises is to respond at the flashpoint, you must be prepared to make and launch content in a variety of formats and circumstances. If a YouTube video breaks, who in your company can create a YouTube video? How quickly? Can you get an emergency Twitter account set up? Who would do that? Can you make a blog post? A podcast? A photo gallery?

Unlike traditional crisis management, which typically requires procedures for press conferences and written releases, in social media you have to be ready to make multi-media content. And if you have to go through your Web design company or IT Department to make that happen, you’re dead. Maybe you should be training corporate officers on how to use a Flip camera and upload video, and to use WordPress?

Of course, you’ll probably never need a social media crisis plan. But, maybe you will. And if you can’t get a video from your CEO on YouTube within 3 hours, anytime of the day or night, you’re not fully prepared. Are you?

(photo by indi.ca)

  • http://www.radian6.com Amber Naslund

    I know it’s not usually valuable to just stop by and say “this post rocks”. But it does. And I’m saying it.

    There are so many gems in here, from being prepared to make multimedia content to responding at the flashpoint and understanding that all social media users are not a homogenized mass that clusters together.

    Jay, this is why you are ALWAYS a resource to me. Great stuff.

    Amber
    .-= Amber Naslund´s last blog ..March of Dimes® Selects Radian6 for Social Media Monitoring =-.

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com Jason Baer

      Thanks so much. You know how much I respect you, so your comment has made my week. This is a post I’ve been toying with for a long time, and I’m glad I finally pulled the trigger. Delighted that you enjoyed it, especially since your company is in the middle of this issue.

  • http://www.radian6.com/ Amber Naslund

    I know it’s not usually valuable to just stop by and say “this post rocks”. But it does. And I’m saying it.

    There are so many gems in here, from being prepared to make multimedia content to responding at the flashpoint and understanding that all social media users are not a homogenized mass that clusters together.

    Jay, this is why you are ALWAYS a resource to me. Great stuff.

    Amber
    .-= Amber Naslund´s last blog ..March of Dimes® Selects Radian6 for Social Media Monitoring =-.

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com/ Jason Baer

      Thanks so much. You know how much I respect you, so your comment has made my week. This is a post I’ve been toying with for a long time, and I’m glad I finally pulled the trigger. Delighted that you enjoyed it, especially since your company is in the middle of this issue.

  • http://www.onebyonemedia.com/ Jim “Genuine” Turner

    Quick let’s test him while he is out of town.
    .-= Jim “Genuine” Turner´s last blog ..TechCrunch and The Twitter Documents =-.

  • http://www.onebyonemedia.com Jim “Genuine” Turner

    Quick let’s test him while he is out of town.
    .-= Jim “Genuine” Turner´s last blog ..TechCrunch and The Twitter Documents =-.

  • http://adelemcalear.com/ Adele McAear

    Jay – I’ve got to echo Amber’s comments here, great stuff! Now, of course, brands will have an easier time responding to a firestorm if they already have an established presence in social media. Starting from scratch in the middle of a controversy makes their job so much harder. (Start now people!) But, at least a controversy gives them a reason to start. And some companies do well with a lesson learned to make them stronger, and maybe even leaders, in the end. Just look at Dell for an example of that.
    .-= Adele McAear´s last blog ..Technically Women Launches =-.

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com/ Jason Baer

      Thanks so much Adele. I agree that companies like Dell and Comcast are great models. They learned the lesson (unfortunately, the hard way) but instead of saying “that’s a one-time, random occurrence” they’ve totally transformed the way they communicate with their customers. Awesome.

  • http://adelemcalear.com Adele McAear

    Jay – I’ve got to echo Amber’s comments here, great stuff! Now, of course, brands will have an easier time responding to a firestorm if they already have an established presence in social media. Starting from scratch in the middle of a controversy makes their job so much harder. (Start now people!) But, at least a controversy gives them a reason to start. And some companies do well with a lesson learned to make them stronger, and maybe even leaders, in the end. Just look at Dell for an example of that.
    .-= Adele McAear´s last blog ..Technically Women Launches =-.

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com Jason Baer

      Thanks so much Adele. I agree that companies like Dell and Comcast are great models. They learned the lesson (unfortunately, the hard way) but instead of saying “that’s a one-time, random occurrence” they’ve totally transformed the way they communicate with their customers. Awesome.

  • http://www.wheatleytimmons.com/ Robert Wheatley

    This is really good. My business is centered on consumer brands, but somehow I’ve been invited to speak at the National Pulp and Paperboard Manufacturers annual conference in September. My presentation is “Responding to Disaster at the Speed of Light.” My goal is to help them “unlearn” everything these CEOs think they know about crisis response. And bring the new world to life. Any other examples besides Dominos you think are especially powerful?

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com/ Jason Baer

      Robert – Thanks so much for your comment. I hope you can share the slides of your presentation. So many people would benefit from it, even if they’re not in the paper biz.

      Donna Tocci (see two comments down) is a great example of someone who has lived through a social media crisis and can tell the tale. Motrin is a good case study with Motrin Moms. So is United Airlines (happening now). Dell and the “Dell Hell” situation, too. Comcast with the “technician sleeping on my couch” video.

      Frank (@comcastcares) can help with Comcast. Donna (@donnatocci) can help with Master Lock.

      • Donna Tocci

        Robert – reach out via Twitter and I’d be happy to help w/your presentation.
        Jay…as much as I would have loved this crisis to happen to that other brand (lol)…the brand I’m affiliated with is Kryptonite.

  • http://www.wheatleytimmons.com Robert Wheatley

    This is really good. My business is centered on consumer brands, but somehow I’ve been invited to speak at the National Pulp and Paperboard Manufacturers annual conference in September. My presentation is “Responding to Disaster at the Speed of Light.” My goal is to help them “unlearn” everything these CEOs think they know about crisis response. And bring the new world to life. Any other examples besides Dominos you think are especially powerful?

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com Jason Baer

      Robert – Thanks so much for your comment. I hope you can share the slides of your presentation. So many people would benefit from it, even if they’re not in the paper biz.

      Donna Tocci (see two comments down) is a great example of someone who has lived through a social media crisis and can tell the tale. Motrin is a good case study with Motrin Moms. So is United Airlines (happening now). Dell and the “Dell Hell” situation, too. Comcast with the “technician sleeping on my couch” video.

      Frank (@comcastcares) can help with Comcast. Donna (@donnatocci) can help with Master Lock.

      • http://YourWebsite Donna Tocci

        Robert – reach out via Twitter and I’d be happy to help w/your presentation.
        Jay…as much as I would have loved this crisis to happen to that other brand (lol)…the brand I’m affiliated with is Kryptonite.

  • Donna Tocci

    This brought back many memories for me. I’ve re-tweeted as “required reading” and passed it around internally as the same. Thank you!

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com/ Jason Baer

      LOL. Thanks so much for the nice RT Donna. Indeed, you’ve lived this a lot more than most. In fact, I’m going to connect Robert (two comments above you) with you for his presentation.

      Always great to see you here. Thanks!

  • http://YourWebsite Donna Tocci

    This brought back many memories for me. I’ve re-tweeted as “required reading” and passed it around internally as the same. Thank you!

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com Jason Baer

      LOL. Thanks so much for the nice RT Donna. Indeed, you’ve lived this a lot more than most. In fact, I’m going to connect Robert (two comments above you) with you for his presentation.

      Always great to see you here. Thanks!

  • http://jamiefavreau.wordpress.com/ Jamie Favreau

    Very good post! Nice ways to stop a fire in the middle of some kind of crisis. You have to monitor what people are saying because they are always talking about your brand. Look at the firestorm on United by the United Breaks Guitars. It took him creating a song, which was catchy, to finally get them to listen. Plus, threats to make more songs. You never know how much content can be made against your brand and how catchy it will be.
    .-= Jamie Favreau´s last blog ..What will be the next wave of journalism? =-.

  • http://jamiefavreau.wordpress.com Jamie Favreau

    Very good post! Nice ways to stop a fire in the middle of some kind of crisis. You have to monitor what people are saying because they are always talking about your brand. Look at the firestorm on United by the United Breaks Guitars. It took him creating a song, which was catchy, to finally get them to listen. Plus, threats to make more songs. You never know how much content can be made against your brand and how catchy it will be.
    .-= Jamie Favreau´s last blog ..What will be the next wave of journalism? =-.

  • http://www.spiral16.com/blog whitney

    Jay – Thanks so much for mentioning Spiral16!

    To that specific point (no. 2), many of our clients struggle with the “whose job is this?” question. Some delegate the work, some create a new department, and some add a new position related specifically to online brand management. Whatever route a business chooses, social media, if managed correctly, will improve internal communication as well as communication with the online audience. When we explain how monitoring can serve multiple departments in one company, it increases the value even more.

    That’s exactly why planning is critical, because what works for one business may not work for another… And you need to know who your fearless leader is when the Tweet hits the fan.

    Also, I’m feeling the “Risky Business” theme for a new presentation. *cue Bob Seger*

    (I tried to comment yesterday, but I think my browser had a meltdown!)

    Whitney Mathews
    Social Media Manager
    @spiral16
    @whitneymathews
    .-= whitney´s last blog ..How social media can make history =-.

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com/ Jason Baer

      Thanks Whitney. I find that people determine who’s job it was AFTER the crisis. Not that useful at that point!

  • http://www.spiral16.com/blog whitney

    Jay – Thanks so much for mentioning Spiral16!

    To that specific point (no. 2), many of our clients struggle with the “whose job is this?” question. Some delegate the work, some create a new department, and some add a new position related specifically to online brand management. Whatever route a business chooses, social media, if managed correctly, will improve internal communication as well as communication with the online audience. When we explain how monitoring can serve multiple departments in one company, it increases the value even more.

    That’s exactly why planning is critical, because what works for one business may not work for another… And you need to know who your fearless leader is when the Tweet hits the fan.

    Also, I’m feeling the “Risky Business” theme for a new presentation. *cue Bob Seger*

    (I tried to comment yesterday, but I think my browser had a meltdown!)

    Whitney Mathews
    Social Media Manager
    @spiral16
    @whitneymathews
    .-= whitney´s last blog ..How social media can make history =-.

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com Jason Baer

      Thanks Whitney. I find that people determine who’s job it was AFTER the crisis. Not that useful at that point!

  • http://www.whitehorse.com/ Jamie Beckland

    Jay,

    This is a great wake up call to show how quickly these things come up, and why social media monitoring should be part of every arsenal. In our monitoring, we do you step #3 – fire drills – by bringing forward conversational concerns we see before they get out of control. That way, there’s a chance to get out in front of a crisis.

    Here are some more details about our approach, and also some recent research on how the provider offerings stack up:
    http://whitehorse.postclickmarketing.com/wh-bm-bc

  • http://www.whitehorse.com Jamie Beckland

    Jay,

    This is a great wake up call to show how quickly these things come up, and why social media monitoring should be part of every arsenal. In our monitoring, we do you step #3 – fire drills – by bringing forward conversational concerns we see before they get out of control. That way, there’s a chance to get out in front of a crisis.

    Here are some more details about our approach, and also some recent research on how the provider offerings stack up:
    http://whitehorse.postclickmarketing.com/wh-bm-bc

  • http://johnharveyirwin.wordpress.com/ John Harvey Irwin

    Jay,

    Thanks for the good post. Today I posted about 5 suggested tips on reputation management in the blogosphere. I believe we are of a similar mind where the tenants of crisis management, reputation management or other PR strategies really haven’t changed in the social media landscape. Rather, companies and agencies need to be aware of the velocity of these new media channels, and some new monitoring tools and strategies to react swiftly and appropriately.

    I would welcome your feedback to my post today on reputation management.

    Best,

    John Harvey Irwin
    .-= John Harvey Irwin´s last blog ..Reputation Management in the Blogosphere: Did Whitepages.com Take it on the Chin? =-.

  • http://johnharveyirwin.wordpress.com/ John Harvey Irwin

    Jay,

    Thanks for the good post. Today I posted about 5 suggested tips on reputation management in the blogosphere. I believe we are of a similar mind where the tenants of crisis management, reputation management or other PR strategies really haven’t changed in the social media landscape. Rather, companies and agencies need to be aware of the velocity of these new media channels, and some new monitoring tools and strategies to react swiftly and appropriately.

    I would welcome your feedback to my post today on reputation management.

    Best,

    John Harvey Irwin
    .-= John Harvey Irwin´s last blog ..Reputation Management in the Blogosphere: Did Whitepages.com Take it on the Chin? =-.

  • Kim Hennig

    RT @PeterTwombly: @exectweets: Have Social Media "Crisis Plan"? Interesting read on how to prepare – http://tinyurl.com/lmnm4d

  • http://twitter.com/therealprman/status/3178220069 Steve Farnsworth

    4 Brand-Saving Recommendations for #SocialMedia Crisis Management | #PR 2.0 | http://ow.ly/jlpk

  • http://twitter.com/racheysarah/status/3178246222 Rachel Lerner

    RT @TheRealPRMan: 4 Brand-Saving Recommendations for #SocialMedia Crisis Management | #PR 2.0 | http://ow.ly/jlpk

  • http://twitter.com/sowebinc/status/3178275052 SOWEB Inc.

    Learn Brand-Saving Recommendations for #SocialMedia Crisis Management | #PR 2.0 | http://ow.ly/jlpk RT@TheRealPRMan

  • http://twitter.com/mgreen49/status/3178309265 Mark Green

    RT @TheRealPRMan: 4 Brand-Saving Recommendations for #SocialMedia Crisis Management | #PR 2.0 | http://ow.ly/jlpk

  • http://twitter.com/doktorspinn/status/3200080715 Jerry Silfwer

    Surftips: 4 Brand-Saving Recommendations for Social Media Crisis Management | PR 2.0 | Soci.. http://bit.ly/13xE46 #profsweden

  • http://twitter.com/innovateaz/status/3257741406 Innovate AZ

    RT @tweetmeme 4 Brand-Saving Recommendations for Social Media Crisis Management | PR 2.0 | Social Media Consult… http://tinyurl.com/lmnm4d

  • http://twitter.com/pagerankseo/status/3716951161 Robert Visser

    Reading @jaybaer A Social Media Gun to the Head http://bit.ly/NxrPI 4 & Brand-Saving Recommendations 4 Social Media… http://bit.ly/12HuK3

  • http://twitter.com/echerub/statuses/6904545078 echerub (Leonard Chu)

    Twitter Comment


    Run a business? Got a social media crisis communication plan? If not, you should. [link to post] – Posted using Chat Catcher

  • http://twitter.com/echerub/statuses/6904545078 echerub (Leonard Chu)

    Twitter Comment


    Run a business? Got a social media crisis communication plan? If not, you should. [link to post]

    Posted using Chat Catcher

  • http://twitter.com/echerub/status/6904545078 Leonard Chu

    Run a business? Got a social media crisis communication plan? If not, you should. http://ping.fm/yerip

  • http://twitter.com/admavericks/status/6908611861 Lessing-Flynn

    I am now following @jaybaer and this post is the reason why! http://ow.ly/Ooye

  • http://twitter.com/listenlogic/status/8914962723 ListenLogic

    Why should you be listening? 4 Brand-Saving Recommendations for Social Media Crisis Management http://cot.ag/9xjBtz

  • http://www.easyrecovery.ie/ Hard drive recovery

    This is really required to have some restriction on video postings on social media

  • http://twitter.com/natbourre/status/10739356934 Nat Bourre

    An old post but worth reviewing: 4 Brand-Saving Recommendations for Social Media Crisis Management – http://bit.ly/9gfazM (via @jaybaer)

  • http://twitter.com/natbourre/status/10739356934 Nat Bourre

    An old post but worth reviewing: 4 Brand-Saving Recommendations for Social Media Crisis Management – http://bit.ly/9gfazM (via @jaybaer)

  • http://twitter.com/mlanting/status/11203260622 Menno Lanting

    @koendroste hier nog een paar PR 2.0 cases: http://bit.ly/mqJU6 / http://bit.ly/d8QtiN / http://bit.ly/ZXUgV. Veel succes!

  • http://www.easyrecovery.ie/ Data Recovery

    These 4 rules are really good to overcome crisis

  • http://twitter.com/fikirbaz/status/14879856343 Ozgur Poyrazoglu

    4 Brand-Saving Recommendations for Social Media Crisis Management – http://bit.ly/9gfazM

  • http://twitter.com/fikirbaz/status/14879856343 Ozgur Poyrazoglu

    4 Brand-Saving Recommendations for Social Media Crisis Management – http://bit.ly/9gfazM

  • http://twitter.com/fikirbaz/status/14879856343 Ozgur Poyrazoglu

    4 Brand-Saving Recommendations for Social Media Crisis Management – http://bit.ly/9gfazM

  • http://twitter.com/the_networks/status/14879898977 Social Network (RSS)

    Ozgur Poyrazoglu: 4 Brand-Saving Recommendations for Social Media Crisis Management – http://bit.ly/9gfazM: http://bit.ly/9NoXXi

  • http://twitter.com/the_networks/status/14879898977 Social Network (RSS)

    Ozgur Poyrazoglu: 4 Brand-Saving Recommendations for Social Media Crisis Management – http://bit.ly/9gfazM: http://bit.ly/9NoXXi

  • http://twitter.com/the_networks/status/14879898977 Social Network (RSS)

    Ozgur Poyrazoglu: 4 Brand-Saving Recommendations for Social Media Crisis Management – http://bit.ly/9gfazM: http://bit.ly/9NoXXi

  • http://twitter.com/emerson_gradimc/status/15517201170 Grad Mktg Students

    Four steps on saving a brand during a social media crisis! Check it out: http://bit.ly/HiI0G

  • http://twitter.com/emerson_gradimc/status/15517201170 Grad Mktg Students

    Four steps on saving a brand during a social media crisis! Check it out: http://bit.ly/HiI0G

  • http://twitter.com/juliacantor/status/15517626226 juliacantor

    "Make it someone's job to pay attention" RT @EMERSON_GradIMC: 4 steps on saving a brand during a social media crisis http://bit.ly/HiI0G

  • http://twitter.com/mavtweets/status/16666024410 Maverick Indonesia

    4 Brand-Saving Recommendations for Social Media Crisis Management http://bit.ly/ZXUgV #crisismgmt

  • http://twitter.com/lucassurya/status/16667361849 Lucas Suryanata

    RT @mavtweets: 4 Brand-Saving Recommendations for Social Media Crisis Management http://bit.ly/ZXUgV #crisismgmt

  • http://twitter.com/ciplukcarlita/status/16667432049 Cipluk Carlita

    RT @mavtweets: 4 Brand-Saving Recommendations for Social Media Crisis Management http://bit.ly/ZXUgV #crisismgmt

  • http://twitter.com/smmguide/status/16667554999 Social Media Guide

    RT @mavtweets: 4 Brand-Saving Recommendations for Social Media Crisis Management http://bit.ly/ZXUgV #crisismgmt

  • http://twitter.com/ericlodi/status/16672396209 Eric Claudie

    4 Brand-Saving Recommendations for Social Media Crisis Management http://bit.ly/ZXUgV /via @smmguide @mavtweets

  • http://twitter.com/jeffreypjacobs/status/16691618527 Jeff Jacobs

    RT @ericlodi: 4 Brand-Saving Recommendations for Social Media Crisis Management http://bit.ly/ZXUgV /via @smmguide @mavtweets

  • http://twitter.com/jeffreypjacobs/status/16691618527 Jeff Jacobs

    RT @ericlodi: 4 Brand-Saving Recommendations for Social Media Crisis Management http://bit.ly/ZXUgV /via @smmguide @mavtweets

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  • http://dentistcrawley.com Dentist Crawley

    In Truth functional article. I in truth like this web log.

  • http://twitter.com/cesarprato/status/20217409912 Cesar Prato

    Cómo manejar crisis en Social Media? 4 reglas. http://to.ly/5Ohn

  • RS

    Dear Jay Baer,

    There’s another real case study you can use for your reference. It all happened in the last 48 hours in Portugal. Ensitel, a well known mobile phone store, tried to shut up a blogger using lawyers. The blogger is an Ensitel’s client who bought a broken cell phone which the store refused to refund and, therefore, wrote some posts about it. This blogger was addressed this week by an order from the court to delete these posts and all social media community reacted very negatively to Ensitel action. Ensitel then began to delete all negative comments on its facebook page and, of course, everything got worse. Not happy with this, Ensitel then sent a press release reinforcing the attack to the blogger. Today, Ensitel is on all Portuguese newspapers and a lot of opinion makers are commenting on this. There’s also a Facebook Group with thousands of followers named “Nunca mais compro nada na Ensitel” (I Will Never Buy Anything on Ensitel). In Portugal, this will be, of course, a case study for PR students. And a case study for all PR professionals. Today, I’m reviewing all the methods I use with my clients based on what we learn from these cases.

    Thank you for sharing your know how with us.

    R.R.,
    PR Consultant

  • http://www.nuxnix.com nuxnix

    An invaluable article – you make the key point that nobody was listening. It’s all about engagement and that means employees need to have the tools to listen and engage with social media.

    You wouldn’t ride a motor bike without learning some lessons in emergency braking, neither should your organisation embark upon a social strategy without lessons and fire drills.

    Angus