I was amazed by a couple of recent incidents that illustrate how some companies still have some serious issues when it comes to Social Media and their brand. A few years ago I wrote about the importance of including social media into crisis communications. And most companies have done a great job at it. But in the event of a crisis it seems some companies still do not have a protocol in place to ensure the right people are responding over social media in a productive way during a crisis.
The first example is HMV, the British Entertainment company. The company was in the middle of a round of layoffs when the woman who owned their Twitter feed began live Tweeting about her co-workers being let go or, as she declared it on Twitter, “Mass execution, of loyal employees who love the brand.”
The situation went on for about 20 minutes before she handed over control of Twitter. The tweets actually included her quoting the Marketing director asking how to shut down Twitter.
Once she turned over the Twitter channel she noted she still had administration rights and had to inform her former employer via Twitter that they needed to revoke her account status.
And if that isn’t scary enough, you should know she was also responsible for HMV’s Facebook page. Lucky for them she only focused on Twitter that day.
Applebee’s wasn’t so lucky when it came to Facebook and crisis management. The story of how a receipt from the chain containing a customer note denying her waitress her tip went viral. The customer demanded the waitress be fired for posting the note. As a result Applebee’s found itself in the middle of a PR crisis that began spiraling even further out of control in a series of late night posts on their Facebook page.
Journalist R.L. Stollar compiled the evidence of what has been called a “social media suicide” by a few sources. As customers flocked to the site to express their concerns some 17,000 comments were posted most of which were very negative. The team in charge of the Facebook page began, according to Stollar, deleting negative comments and blocking commenters.
An “official” explanation for what happened then appeared at 2AM as a status update. Do you think that was part of an established crisis communications plan? I doubt it. Worse, once the status was posted the Applebee’s team began deleting comments on the update.
That began another cycle of negative comments. The update post commenting on the incident now has more than 25,000 comments and that doesn’t include the original comments that were deleted. And most of them are very negative.
These incidents raise some important questions for companies. If a crisis happened right now, do you know who has control of your Twitter and Facebook feeds? If that person walked out tomorrow (or if you had to walk them out) would you know how to turn off their access? Do you have a protocol for who does what on Facebook, Twitter or any other Social Media channel when a PR crisis hits? Do you know who needs to approve what gets posted? The passwords and administration rights to your social media tools are the keys to your social brand. Guard them carefully.
Social Media is a key tool to growing a brand. But fumbles such as these can tarnish a brand and cause real damage. These incidents should prompt companies to ask themselves, “Who has the keys to my social media program?”