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There is only so much sand in the hourglass and if you haven’t already figured out what your social media game plan is during a company crisis, please read on immediately.

In today’s age of communications having a social media crisis engagement strategy is critical to preserving your brand. Now more than ever, the public expects an immediate response on social media when a crisis hits. Every minute that passes by without a response is a slippery slope to disaster. According to a recent study on Hubspot 72 per cent of people who complain on Twitter expect a response within an hour. Moreover, 60 per cent of respondents in the survey felt negatively about the brand if they did not receive timely responses.

Here are a few steps to consider on how best to develop a minimal defence on social media when dealing with a crisis:

1. Social Media Monitoring

There are many different software platforms out there but if you do not have a full-time person involved in this process or a person who fully understands how to monitor and what alerts to establish you are far better off to engage the services of a firm that can manage this process for you. The cost of such a monitoring service can run you anywhere from $500+ per month depending on the size of your company. Though software platforms typically cost within this range, the advantage of having an agency manage this for your company is that you don’t carry the additional costs of an employee. At that rate, it makes much more economic sense to outsource.

 

2. Understanding the difference between and issue and a full-blown crisis

Having a clear understanding of the issue is your first step. You should develop a cascade of responses and protocol to ensure that you don’t escalate an issue like an ice cream spill in a retail store to a crisis like a bank robbery in progress.

Make sure the Crisis Communications Team (CCT) has assigned a senior member to be responsible for any communication approvals for rapid response requirements. It is very important that you don’t delay in responding to customer enquiries even if it means providing placeholder responses noting that you’re aware of the issues and you will get back to them promptly. If you have been in these turbulent waters before you understand how quickly a poorly managed issue can soon escalate into a crisis.

 

3. First Responders

Know what the program is once your issue has been detected. Every great crisis management plan has protocols and messaging created in advance. Everyone should know who is on the team and what previously crafted responses are ready to go or need to be quickly modified. Your social media responders have to be empowered with baseline responses and a priority sequence on response levels and messaging. Make sure you have a consistent message that can be adapted across all social media channels.

 

4. Get the message up

Do not waste time pursuing the perfect detailed response. Even if you do not have all the required details, at a bare minimum, you need to inform your audience. Tell them you are aware of the situation and expect to be addressing it more formally within the hour or whatever immediate timeframe possible. This conveys your understanding of the urgency and immediacy of the situation. Also, be sure to display the highest amount of empathy possible. Being abrupt and unsympathetic will only add fuel to the fire.

Make sure your team has a standing ‘if in doubt’ response so that no enquiry goes unanswered. Furthermore, once the correct, informed responses to your issue have been created, make sure your social media manager is able to respond expeditiously, and in the event of uncertainty, that the appropriate level of senior management is available to sign off on the post. Ultimately you will need to post an official response to a situation on your website which will be used by the media, blog writers and others who will be reporting on your issue.

 

5. Pause your scheduled posts

Nothing can be worse than seeing a light-hearted acknowledgement of an unrelated event magically appear during the heat of a crisis. Disable your scheduled posts immediately. Your customer base needs to know that your priority focus is on the issue at hand and nothing else.

 

6. Create a crisis FAQ web page

Having a web page that addresses the most frequent questions around the issue gives you the ability to link to answers more efficiently. Details of the occurrence, contacts at the crisis site, lists of products impacted, geographic regions in question, etc., should all be aggregated in one place that can be easily referenced and shared throughout your social media posts.

 

7. Engage

Once the message is up, make sure you immediately engage with your audience responses. Make sure that you are consistent with your messaging and responding in a polite and caring manner. If you have positive responses, make sure and thank those supporters immediately. There will be individuals that cannot be pleased no matter what the effort and you need to understand this going in.

One tactic you should consider in your response is offering to take the conversation ‘offline’. While you may get a few people accepting this offer, at the very least, you are indicating to the broader audience at large your willingness to address heated and repeated comments directly. Remember, if you are satisfying the majority you have preserved your brand and supporting community.

 

8. Internal Employees

Your employees need to be made immediately alert to any social media crisis response campaign. It is critical that company employees do not randomly respond or engage in conversations on social. This protocol should be addressed in your employee handbook to protect the company/brand from rogue engagement. Make sure that all employees are aware of the situation when it breaks and to refer to the section in their handbook for references regarding proper behaviour. Also, make sure you keep your employees up to date on all developments and conclusions as they are reached.

 

9. Document Everything

Make sure you create a log of engagement. Tweets, status updates, blogs, comments on social media—everything needs to be saved in a central repository for future references. Make sure copies of all your emails are recorded. Also, review your campaign. Understand what worked, did not work and your social media activity as it relates to the time series of the event. Review web site traffic patterns and understand where visitors were engaged. Reviewing what happened will only make your campaign stronger the next time it happens.

 

10. Continue to monitor

One of the most common mistakes to crisis management is thinking it’s over and having it rear its ugly head again four days later. Keep a close eye and adjust your monitoring to key in on higher influencers. As well, make sure you are monitoring key date milestones. In other words, expect that someone will trot out “it was one year ago today…” these are common occurrences, and you need to be prepared.

These are but a few ideas that should help you better prepare. Until your next crisis…
HM

LMA_Hugh

 

This Tuesday November 21, 2017 Hugh Mansfield, CEO of Mansfield Inc will be speaking on the points of social media measurement/marketing law firms in Canada. Information for the conference can be found on the Legal Marketing Association’s website.  The conference is at the Sheraton Center Toronto Hotel and panel discussion goes from 3:45 to 4:30. Join the conversation: #LMAEC17

The panel is hosted by:

Melanie Trudeau - @Melanie_Trudeau

The panel consists of:

Hugh Mansfield - @hughmansfield1

Farzana Crocco@fjsyed

David Perry - @SocialDave 

Welcome to another of our “Best Of” series. If you would like to be notified when our articles go live, please send us an email and we’ll add you to our mailing list.

School is now in session and yes, marketing for 2017’s back-to-school season began earlier than ever this year—campaigns from Office Depot and Lands’ End started as early as mid-June before many students even finished their final exams. Compared with 2016, back-to-school TV commercials did not begin airing until mid-July. While marketers are pushing their brands, products and tech earlier and earlier each year, we get even more time to analyze the effectiveness of each campaign.

Here are four notable campaigns from this year’s back-to-school season, plus one classic ad that’s always relevant.

IKEA

Using YouTube influencers and Snapchat to reach their target audience, the furniture brand enlisted pop music/web comedy stars Superfruit to promote their college dorm products through interactive videos. With Superfruit hosting, the ads utilize Snapchat’s vertical-video ads that let users to “swipe up” to play clips and answer quiz questions around their home décor tastes to find the right IKEA products for them. Once you’ve completed the quiz, you can then click through to IKEA’s website to buy the products featured in the video.

By using influencers to reach their target audiences on a medium they regularly interact on, IKEA created a targeted, engaging and interactive campaign that puts their products top-of-mind for the people most interested in them.

 

HP

Hewlett-Packard is attempting some serious appeals to our emotions in this tear-jerking ad based around an evolving parent-child relationship and the transition into adolescence. The product it’s actually advertising, the Sprocket Photo Printer, takes a backseat in the narrative while playing an important role within it.

The ad tells a relatable story for parents and kids and gives everyone else a subtle reminder that there’s a nifty cell phone-sized printer to make the moments you capture even more memorable.

Gap

Gap has produced a series of ads for Gap Kids with their “Forward with” theme running throughout. The campaign features four short films that each showcase a different life skill for children to adopt. This spot, entitled “Forward with Kindness”, centres around a reading of Raquel Jaramillo’s book, Wonder (that features a boy born with facial defects who helps his community learn about kindness), to demonstrate “the world wants to be kind.”

This ad is also features a racially diverse group of children including some with facial differences to drive home a message of inclusiveness and acceptance to kids returning to school.

 

Marks and Spencer

This ad for the British multinational retailer is narrated by a seemingly nervous schoolboy walking into his first day of class. Internally, he confronts the highs and lows of his upcoming school semester in an understated and thoughtful message of self-confidence.

Like Gap’s ad, this commercial does not overtly promote any one particular product but makes use of the brand’s status as a household name to instil feelings of encouragement and self-assurance in viewers.

 

Bonus ad: Staples

This 1996 Staples commercial is a classic, featuring parents skipping down the aisles singing “It’s the most wonderful time of the year” in anticipation of their kids returning to school, while they follow sluggishly behind with hanging heads.

Staples has used at least five various iterations of this popular campaign throughout the years, with the most recent version running in 2013.