Part 6 of The Business Value Behind Social Media focuses on the use of social media in disaster recovery and crisis communications. Chris Brogan, Charlene Li, David Meerman Scott, and Martin Giles (moderator) discuss how organizations should:
* Respond quickly and use the same online channel in which the event occurs
* Learn from the Motrin Moms and how Johnson & Johnson responded
* Learn from Chris Brogan's personal experience with negative backlash
* Understand United Airlines' poor response to the United Breaks Guitars YouTube Video
The panel's discussion on this topic takes place from 51:04 to 55:32 of the embedded video. Where appropriate, I've also supplemented this post with entries from Open Leadership by Charlene Li and Real Time Marketing & PR by David Meerman Scott.
Respond Quickly in the Same Medium Where the Crisis Takes Place
Online Crisis Management Requires Speed (51:25 - 51:47). David emphasizes responding as quickly as possible is crucial. Running your responses through various departments (aka Legal, HR, CFO, etc.) slows things down. The longer you take to respond, the more your organization looks guilty or non-human. Non-responsiveness is quickly interpreted as the typical, corporate "no comment" response.
Respond in the Same Social Media Channel (51:48 - 52:35). If the event occurs in YouTube, publish a YouTube video response to your detractor(s). Issuing a press release as the response is a mistake. If someone writes a blog post criticizing your organization, go directly to that blog and post a comment. Don't make the mistake of conducting a radio interview to tell your side of the story. The response medium counts just as much as your response time.
Important Note: Regarding real-time crisis management, David provides more detailed and how-to / actionable advice in Chapters 7, 8, and 9 of his latest book, Real-Time Marketing & PR. Here are the chapters:
- Chapter 7: Crisis Communications and the Media
- Chapter 8: What are People Saying About You This Instant
- Chapter 9: Tap the Crowd for Quick Action
Learn from the Motrin Moms and How Johnson & Johnson Reponded
Upsetting a Vocal Population Segment (52:36 - 53:12). Chris explains that whether or not the circumstances were right/wrong is not the point. Johnson & Johnson took action because the advertisement garnered a lot of negative attention within the "mommy blogger" community.
Background on Motrin Moms Situation (from pages 231 to 233 of Open Leadership by Charlene Li). In the fall of 2008 McNeil Consumer Healthcare posted a commercial on its motrin.com web site. Charlene points out the advertisement appeared on the site for six weeks with hardly a comment. However, one consumer took offence.
And, that's when all hell broke loose ...
How Johnson & Johnson Responded. On pages 232 and 233 of Open Leadership, Charlene writes how Johnson & Johnson admitted its mistake and immediately took the advertisement from its website. It also responded in two social media channels during the event:
Channel #1: The JNJ Corporate Blog.Key marketing executives posted apologies and updates on The JNJBTW blog. Here are links to these posts:
Channel #2: Twitter.One of the marketing VPs reached out to key mommy bloggers on Twitter.
"Real-Time Means Moving in Matters of Minutes Rather Than Hours." This is a paraphrased quote from Marc Monseau, Director of Social Media for Johnson & Johnsonon page 233 of Open Leadership. It underscores the importance of response time and online monitoring. The following quote from Monseau also on page 233 of Open Leadership speaks volumes:
"There are more and more businesses taking a hard look at what they need to structure, to create a program, and at least beginning to listen to the conversation. The Motrin Moms situation really reinforced the importance of starting to really listen and to observe more carefully."
Learn From Chris Brogan's Personal Experience
Background on the Online Situation (53:14 - 53:43). On pages 230 to 232 of his book Trust Agents, Chris describes a social media campaign he participated in with Kmart. This campaign helped Kmart achieve some of its best results in years. However, Chris received significant criticism from the blogger community.
The Source of Criticism: A Sponsored Post Chris Wrote on Kmart's Behalf. On page 231, Julien Smith (Trust Agents co-author), writes: "All sponsored posts had always been disclosed before, but the dollar amounts involved had never been public. In readers' eyes, this somehow crossed the line between social and marketing norms." On page 232, Julien points out the key learning: "In this case, we discovered that there are agreements, often implicit, between people and that these social contracts need to be clear and understood at all times."
Understand United Airlines' Poor Response to "United Breaks Guitars"
In case you haven't seen the United Breaks Guitars Video, here it is:
A Non-Response Makes Your Organization Look Less than Human (53:44 - 54:17). David points out how a lack of responsiveness is perceived as the typical, corporate response of "No Comment." Approximately 10 million views (and counting) of this video occurred. What's worse is United's lack of responsiveness only reinforced the negative portrayal of treating its passengers and their belongings poorly.
United Had No Previous History of Posting Videos on YouTube (54:18 - 55:10). According to Charlene, this is the reason why United decided not to post its own video response. No previous relationship existed on this social media channel so United felt like "it couldn't just show up." However, David disagrees. In his opinion, United should have at least responsed by a blog post or some other social media channel.
When a negative, online event involves your organization, remember three (3) things:
- Respond quickly
- Publish the response in the SAME online medium where the event took place
- At a minimum, execute #1 in at least one relevant social media channel
Is it fair, what happened to United Airlines? Not entirely. But, they executed none of the above. Fair or unfair, the court of public opinion has little sympathy for large corporations when they fail to respond:
COURT OF PUBLIC OPINION
Lack of Response + Viral, Social Media Evidence = Guilty
ROI Irony: How much did this negative PR cost United Airlines? According to this article by Chris Ayres of The Times Online, the negative publicity caused by this video cost United Airlines $180 million in shareholder value losses (e.g., a 10% decrease in stock price). It's a leap of faith to declare the video as the sole cause in the stock's decrease. To validate that hypothesis, you would have to run a multi-regression statistical analysis.
Still, the negative PR impact of this event is inescapable. I can think of approximately 10 million reasons / YouTube views why.
What Do You Think? Thank you for reading this far (if you didn't fall asleep). Please tell me what you think. I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Tony Faustino is a marketing and corporate strategist. He writes about how The Internet reinvents marketing strategy for organizations and individuals in his marketing strategy blog, Social Media ReInvention. Follow his tweets @tonyfaustino or circle him on Google+.