What does a “Hitler-Kettle”, a Grounded Australian Airline Fleet and Fastfood Identity Theft have in common?

In short: What brands can do to manage a Social Media Crisis

 

Social Media has allowed customers to grow ever closer to their favourite businesses and likewise has allowed businesses to engage with consumers worldwide. This has its obvious benefits for any company. However, there is a lack of control in which an honest mistake could be blown way of proportion, seriously damaging a brands social media image and thus its profitability.

Before getting into what to do and what not to do when things go wrong, good business practice indicates that training employees on correct social media etiquette goes a long way. After all, employees are the face of a business and are therefore expected to represent its ideals and ethics.

Companies like Adobe and HP have created their own social media training programs to help its employees reflect their brand in a positive image. Adobe recognises that its employees are an important and underutilised resource, as a result they focus on empowering all employees to be brand ambassadors. HP on the other hand make use of a gamification techniques whereby according to Alex Flagg (the Social Media and Digital Content Lead) views that scoring points on a leader board and earning badges is highly motivating and quite honestly needed to encourage […] mandatory social media training.

One key method in which a company can limit damage is by watching its timing. In this, if a business is running a marketing campaign it should be aware of any issues regarding the promotion and its own operational system. Qantas – the Australian airline, used the hashtag “#Qantasluxury”, offering followers the chance to win first class pyjama packs. Followers had to describe their dream luxury in-flight experience in order to win. This campaign was ran during union negotiations when its planes were grounded, leading to a backlash of tweets using the hashtag #Quantasluxury. A businesses marketing sector clearly needs to work in tandem with its operational side as can be demonstrated here.

JC Penney offers another example of controlling damage to a brand. A picture went viral of a billboard of a JC Penny kettle and Hitler, in which there was a certain likeness. The department store responded as soon as The Telegraph ran the story, which then lead to a human lead response that was quite flippant and not too serious. They responded to a few tweets along the lines of:  “‘Totally unintentional. If we had designed it to look like something, we would have gone with a snowman”. Interestingly, the kettle featured was the only one of the kettles stocked on their website to be sold out. It was however later removed from the website the next day  along with the billboard being taken down.

It also helps to know your customer and not be afraid to approach them directly. Late rooms have done this whereby their social media team reached out to a disgruntled past user who had posted in a forum, discouraging anyone to use their service. The issue the customer had was solved promptly and the thread created in the forum was removed due to how pleased the customer was with their service. This shows how social media intelligence and customer service combined can help resolve even the smallest of risks.

BurgerKing effectively dealt with a situation that could’ve seriously damaged the brands reputation. They were hacked by an outside source which resulted in their profile picture being changed to the McDonalds logo. Subsequent tweets stating they had been bought out by the golden arches and advertisements on McDonalds special offers appeared before the account as frozen.  The whole debacle lasted only around a few hours and had helped BurgerKing more than double their followers (from 50,000 to 11,000). Huge amount of interest in the brand was taken with the free press generated and although BurgerKing would be slow to admit they were glad to be hacked, the positives of the situation in this instance outweigh the negative. A greater control over the companies social media accounts are likely to have been put into effect as well as strong and thorough password changes being implemented.

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