There have been a number of recent incidents where companies have been publicly embarrassed because of situations they have found themselves in, whether caused by them or someone else.
Organizations can very quickly find themselves on the wrong side of the growing social media storm, and what continues to surprise me is the number of companies who find themselves in such situations and do a horrendous job of dealing with them ,despite the fact that they should have known better.
There have been plenty of case studies, blog posts from pundits, and admissions by companies that can be referenced to develop the appropriate response yet companies still fail to do so.
Some have shared process maps for triaging social media posts that have garnered attention and typically not the good kind. The triage process guides companies through questions and steps about the post such as
Is it true?
Who is saying it?
What do we know about them?
What responses can be considered and what are the potential outcomes?
Being Prepared for the Inevitable
It is worth considering, as an exercise, to run a social media fire drill to try a number of different scenarios to explore potential incidents, the aforementioned questions, and possible responses.
During such exercises, companies should ask themselves what, if any, escalation procedure is required?
By that I mean, if we take the example of the emergency red phone often depicted in the movies then who gets to use it, under what circumstances, and who is at the other end of the line who can make the difficult decisions with authority and sometimes limited information.
Organizations need to know who is responsible, accountable, to be consulted, and to be informed. There are times during a social media crisis where speed is a necessity. The person or people who can ultimately make a call about something because they have the authority need to be able to do so unencumbered.
Proper training and scenario planning will help to empower them to make the right decision quickly. Not every scenario can be predicted in advance but there have certainly been enough examples to date that any organization can conduct substantive scenario planning if they only elect to do so.
Do you have a red phone? When would you use it? Who answers at the other end? Do they have the authority to make the right call?
A recognized senior social strategist, speaker, and blogger. He has held senior strategy roles with wireless, e-business, financial, and social CRM service providers, helping clients remain competitive by embracing social media and digital technologies.