Brand Marketing Cases, Insights, News & More!

The Bane of Social Media Strategies in Perspective

Morpheus: This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill – the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill – you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes.

With the advent of all the possibilities that new age communication has induced with the arrival of the social media age, equal weight has been cast on the possibilities of the negativities. Over the last ten years, social crises that have leapt into mainstream media screaming for attention has escalated in accordance with more spotlight cast on the emergence of new media usage.

Altimeter, recently announced the results of their findings culminating from 2001 and found that crises reaching mainstream media have risen steadily through the past decade, with just 1-2 incidents per year in the first five years and a total of 10 social media crises Altimeter Social Media Crisis (YoY)last year alone. Each new scandalous turn of events that rocks the mainstream media casts more shadows and doubts on organizations that were willing to experiment in social space.

Over the course of my personal journey into social media exploration with diverse organizations, I encounter decision makers who are excited over the potential that social platforms promise but are equally held back by concerns of potential social disasters.

Often the concerns are how do they cover all their bases and ensure that any crisis that creeps up can be contained. And in all reality, there are no such guarantees. In fact, often a crisis is really an opportunity for you and your brand to shine on social media. Today, you have a choice between the blue pill where you choose to believe that you remain protected as long as you do not indulge and dip into social media or you can take the red pill and explore the possibilities.

Over the course of years, crisis management in any field always concludes that the best solution is preparedness. We all need to really question ourselves in the advent of any disaster be it if its origin is from social media or from any other event, what will be do once news gets out?

We can be assured that regardless of origin of a crisis, today, it will spread through social media. The idea behind managing a crisis is not to contain or issue a black out for no such solution exists. It is rather what do we do with what have been given to us. And to an organization unprepared and in the dark, what is available to them really is limited.

The majority of the time, crises that spread on social media originates from users who were venting poor experiences, from companies having poor influencer relations and companies who have broken ethical guidelines. In order to meet these eventualities head on, there are three key elements that every organization has to possess.

And as cliché as it may sound, the key to resolving any crisis is preparation, preparation and preparation. In the eventuality of any crisis that erupts in social space, do you and your organization know which departments should be mobilized to address the issues raised? Would you already have established channels of communications with minimum required response timeline understanding of addressing an issue? How would you track how widespread the issue has developed into? Do we know what people are discussing about the issue?

These are merely scratching the essentials of what you need to have in place. Take a step deeper into the rabbit hole, and understand that there is only one word to approaching social media and that is commitment. Be it fair weather or bad, the key to a social media approach is to remain committed.

Whatever fancy communication that any PR company can draft will remain worthless if there is no momentum or sustainability to the community. Without dedication to a plan of action or commitment to your community, you have little chance of survival on social media.

Cases to Boot

When disaster struck Energizer Night Race in Malaysia, the brand took too long to respond and when it did, there were already numerous Facebook pages created in boycott to the event and countless negativity spread. There was no plan of action to address the escalating issue.

When KFC responded within a few days to unwanted and wanton behaviour of its staff being circulated on social media, the communication that was prompt and action steps that were communicated were well received. But without commitment to the resolution of the communication and continued assurance, the earlier momentum from a well derived communication plan could not be sustained and within days, the page was again flooded by negativity.

Key Learnings

There are several key learnings that one can pick up from these latest series of events. No, they do not scream that social conversations are minefields as much as the evidence points to the contrary. Rather, imagine the scenario where Energizer was prompt to respond responsibly and to show ownership of the issue and continuously engage the various parties in dialogue.

Or if KFC had managed to follow up with their commitment to resolve the issue by being dedicated to communicating their stand on the issue and to address the chokepoints that kept enraging their consumers, the possibilities that these brands could have opened to their influencers and communities are now a wasted opportunity.

We must first understand that we are not masters of our destiny on social media but rather we need to engage in proactive conversations for our own brand to exist in the future. We form one part of the outcome of social interactions in new age media but are not the conclusive full stop. We must understand that a crisis is where a brand defines itself and its essence to the world.

We can no longer hide behind the pretense that as long as we are not part of the conversation or choose not to commit, we are not responsible over the conversations that are happening on social space. When an issue occurs, we need to be part of that conversation and retain ownership over the direction of the crisis else we would not even have the opportunity to address the issue.

Authenticity Must Come Alive

What every brand needs to bring alive, is authenticity; authenticity in communication and where it stands. Nothing that is fake is sustainable in an open world of communication today. Our journey in social media is not only to thrive on the positives but also to be prepared for the other flip of the coin. It begins with you today and how we are ready for the possibilities social media is challenging us to embrace.

We need to constantly remind ourselves that we are on a plunge into a journey that is open to the possibilities both positive and negative. Let us not doubt or be afraid to take the red pill, to face the reality of times and begin our adventure of a lifetime; let us get social.