Saturday, March 31, 2012

Is a Crisis the Real Test of a Brand When It Comes to Social Media?

It's relatively easy to set up a Facebook page or Twitter account and engage your fans and customers if you're a brand... that is, it's easier to do that than handle a crisis in the social media space.
Properly handling a crisis in the social media space is where you separate the men from the boys or women from the girls - whichever the case may be. I was reminded of that watching the incredible and ongoing fallout re: the Penn State scandal. Lord knows this scandal transcendssocial media as well as sports as the mistakes made by those entrusted with the Penn State brand are numerous but it gave me cause to wonder aloud...
Is A Crisis The Real Test Of A Brand When It Comes To Social Media?
Obviously there are countless example of brands, companies - both big and small, using social media the "right way." Full transparency, open lines of communication, active engagement and on and on. Another example of "doing social media right" can be seen from Samsung and The GAP... two household brand names for sure.Not too long ago they each announced a new social media campaign, if you will. Samsung, the electronics giant, announced the creation of what they're calling Samsung Nation.
If you can't make out the copy in the image...
"Samsung Nation is the exciting new social loyalty program where you earn badges, move up the ranks and have fun discovering everything has to offer. Unlock badges and level up just by visiting, reviewing products, watching videos, participating in user-generated Q&As, and much more. Plus, you can see what others are doing in real time and even uncover a few surprises along the way." Sounds pretty cool and inviting, doesn't it?
Then there's The GAP who recently launched Shop Yourself Social.
Now unlike Samsung, which houses Samsung Nation within its own corporate website, leaving some to refer to it as "the Industry's First Gamified Corporate Website" - The GAP created a separate URL, On the site promises to help cut through the clutter and provide you with the ultimate guide to buying what you truly LOVE for the best price this holiday season.
Wow, the "ultimate guide." Them's some strong words... but we'll see how it all plays out.
Ok, so there's two examples of big time brands doing their best to take full advantage of social media.
Is A Crisis The Real Test Of A Brand When It Comes To Social Media?
But compared to handling a crisis in the social media, that was easy. Because when a crisis hits - and it's bound to it in one form or another, how a company handles it is the - to borrow a GAP word - ultimate test of their social media prowess.
See, a crisis is every company's worst nightmare - and now thanks to the world we live in where full transparency reigns supreme, there's simply no place for a brand to run, no place for them to hide. Oh sure, they can shut down their Facebook page; turn off their Twitter account, hell they can even unplug their phones if they want to go old school. But all that won't stop Mr. and Mrs. Consumer from taking it to the social media streets to voice their opinion.
The proper handling of a crisis in the social media space is where you separate the men from the boys and the women from the girls, whatever the case may be.
Last year the American Red Cross had a potentially major crisis on their hands when one of their employees accidentally sent this Tweet out:
As you can see from the Tweet below, they quickly diffused the potentially lethal situation by making light of it... humor is always a great tool to use.
Then the actual employee who fired off the rogue Tweet sent this out...
Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. Completely diffused the situation. And it actually didn't stop there Dogfish Beer, mentioned in the initial rogue Tweet jumped on board and actually helped raise money for the Red Cross. My man Mack Collier did a great job of telling the story, you can read his account of it here
And then we come to Chapstick. Not long ago they ran an ad that many women and men for that matter deemed offensive. This ad..
Well the people took it to the social media streets and went to the Chapstick Facebook page to voice their displeasure... many times over. However instead of properly dealing with the crisis, full transparency, open lines of communication, active engagement and all that good stuff, Chapstick decided to unplug their phones... they decided to remove all negative comments from their Facebook page. You can real all the sordid details on a post I wrote about it at the end of October which I aptly titled Chapstick - Another Example Of A Brand Who Doesn't Get Social Media, No Butts About It.
Manage The Crisis, Don't Let The Crisis Manage You...
Maybe I'm crazy - I've been called worse trust me, but to me how a company, how a brand deals with a crisis is the real test of their ability to navigate the social media waters.
By the way, if you haven't already I highly recommend you reading Mike Midure's post on Crisis Management. It's just one part of his exclusive series on social media marketing analytics.
Named one of the Top 100 Influencers In Social Media (#41) by Social Technology Review,  Steve Olenski is a freelance writer/blogger currently looking for full-time work. He has worked on some of the biggest brands in the world and has over 20 years experience in advertising and marketing. He lives in Philly and can be reached via emailTwitter, or LinkedIn.

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