No Fear Social Media
I’ve come to the conclusion that negative social media issues are like plane crashes. The big bad ones get media attention, which produces a disproportionate fear in the marketplace, but airline disasters don’t happen every day. The fact that we have this awesome aviation technology has lifted world-wide standard of living exponentially, yet we only hear about the negative news, which causes some to avoid air travel altogether.The same thing is happening with social media in that some brands don’t adopt it or use it to its fullest potential because they’re afraid something “bad” will happen. The conversation isn’t something they can control, so it’s to be feared. The big “What if” has them trembling in their boots. What if they say something negative about us?  What if our social accounts get hacked like Burger King or CBS?In today’s digital world, brands that don’t step into the social conversation wholeheartedly risk invisibility. Toe-dippers beware! Taking full advantage of social conversations already swirling around your brand can only happen when you jump in with both feet and start communicating. Will there be mistakes along the way? Sure. Will people say bad things about you sometimes? Yes. Could things spiral out of control and kill your brand? Only if you allow it.


Use Lemons to Make Lemonade: Burger King is a good example of making lemonade from life-handed lemons. Their Twitter account was hacked, the hooligans had fun saying the brand was merging with McDonalds, the employees were taking drugs, etc. This was something totally out of the brand’s control, but it got fixed, and the incident ended up bringing them a lot of media attention. In the end people understood; they didn’t lose any followers (in fact they gained a bunch). However, Burger King could have taken further advantage of the attention with some funny, targeted content—making lemonade when the hackers handed them lemons.

Plan Ahead:  Recognizing opportunities doesn’t mean you can turn every negative thing into lemonade, however. Due to the nature of the attack on CBS, we must tread carefully. That’s why every brand should have a “disaster plan” when it comes their social strategy.  My friend and co-author of Return on Relationship, Kathryn Rose, talks about creating “moderation plans” with her clients in another of her books, Solving the Social Media Puzzle. In it, she explains how she helped a laundry soap manufacturer brainstorm every negative comment they could possibly get about their product—and list the action they would take to respond. She worked with them to put a plan in place “that took into account the innocuous complaint (e.g. the coupons won’t print; what kind of clothes can I use this on?), all the way to the worst case—someone was injured.” It also took into account how to respond to positive feedback, so all bases were covered. Having this type of plan allowed community managers to act quickly and decisively in moderating their community and not shrink from the unexpected.

You see where I’m going with this? Social conversation is a fluid thing, so you need to plan ahead, but be flexible enough to view some things you may consider bad as opportunities. You can’t control the conversation, so don’t try—the important thing is to be involved in the conversation and work with it; have a plan for moderating and don’t let fear hold you back. People who don’t fly because they’re afraid of what might happen don’t get anywhere fast.  So lose the fear! Embrace the possibilities instead!

Originally published at Salesforce Marketing Cloud Blog

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