What Is Social Media Crisis

By | December 4, 2018


It is not uncommon for a large company to have to deal with a social media crisis and some handle them better than others.Here we present a number of examples where brands have shot themselves in the foot. In most cases the mistake was completely avoidable, and indeed would have been with a little more care and attention.

Today we’ll be looking at five social media crisis management examples and how they played out, as well as six tips for developing your own social media crisis response plan. We’ll be taking a short tour of some of the most egregious missteps made by major brands in recent years to serve as cautionary tales (and maybe the butt of a few well-deserved jokes), before examining not only what they did wrong during the aftermath, but what they should have done instead.

1: McDonald’s Hashtag Hijinks

Although many social media sites’ search functionality has become a great deal more sophisticated than it was just a few years ago, hashtags remain an important part of maximizing the visibility of social campaigns. Simply come up with a clever hashtag, let the users do the work, and reap the benefits – what could go wrong?To coincide with a campaign to promote its line of happy meals, McDonald’s created a hashtag – #McDStories – and encouraged its followers to share their own stories. And, to the doubtless horror of the fast-food giant’s social media team, that’s exactly what people did. For Digital Marketing Companies Check Vivid Digital

One of the hundreds of tweets that took advantage of the #McDStories hashtag toshed light on McDonald’s business operationsAlmost immediately, people began sharing their very worst experiences of either working at or patronizing McDonald’s, from horrifying labor law violations observed by former employees to shocking firsthand accounts of how the chain routinely abuses animals at its suppliers’ agricultural production facilities.

All told, the incident was among McDonald’s worst social media failures, and remains a prime example of how hashtag-based campaigns can backfire horribly.

2: Customer Service Crapshoots

Social media has given us more than just an outlet for our every waking thought and observation; it’s also a prime opportunity to let brands know exactly what we think of them. According to HubSpot, 72% of consumers who contact a company on Twitter expect a response within an hour, which means delaying responses to customer complaints can be the kiss of death for a company’s online reputation.

In September 2013, Twitter user Hasan Syed, who tweets under the handle @HVSVN, tweeted about British Airways’ poor customer service. This was not just an organic tweet – @HVSVN was so mad, he paid to promote it to every user following British Airways (a clever example of using audience segmentation creatively), amplifying the tweet’s reach to more than 76,000 people:Granted, @HVSVN’s tweet was a little generic, and didn’t address a specific grievance or experience he’d had with the airline. However, British Airways did itself no favors by failing to respond to the tweet for more than eight hours. The reason for the delay? The airline’s social media team weren’t in the office because they only work 9-5 p.m.

Had BA responded in a more timely fashion, some of the damage could have been mitigated – but they didn’t, and it wasn’t. A valuable lesson for companies of all sizes, especially immensely profitable international airlines that can easily afford a 24/7 social media presence.

3: Politically Toxic Takes

Sometimes, brands get it so wrong on social media that it’s amazing they ever recover. This was a painful lesson that footwear brand New Balance learned the hard way last year when the brand inadvertently became unofficially endorsed by white supremacists.In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, New Balance’s VP of Public Affairs, Matt LeBretton, voiced his support for the incoming Trump administration when asked a question on his views on the doomed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal. New Balance had been vociferously opposed to the TPP for many years, and had been in the running for an exclusive contract to provide the U.S. Department of Justice with athletic footwear, a contract for which the company was willing to tolerate the “poison pill that is TPP.”

However, when LeBretton said that, “frankly, w/ Pres-Elect Trump we feel things are going to move in the right direction,” fans and opponents of New Balance alike wasted no time in voicing their disapproval. Shortly after the interview was published, neo-Nazi site The Daily Stormer endorsed New Balance as the “official brand of the Trump revolution,” which prompted hundreds of former customers to post images of their New Balance sneakers in the trash on social media: For SEO Agency in London visit here

4: Tasteless Tie-Ins

There’s an old adage that says the only certainties in life are death and taxes. I propose that we add a third to the list – tone-deaf branded tweets on the anniversary of 9/11.It doesn’t matter how many brands have been taken to task for trying to capitalize on the anniversary of the World Trade Center attacks – every year, it happens again.

There are literally dozens of examples of this in action, each as offensive as the last.In 2014, outspoken designer and co-founder of San Francisco-based Mule Design Mike Monteiro took some of the most egregious offenders to task for their “branding” on Twitter, which prompted some difficult conversations about coopting national tragedies to sell products.

Sadly, this kind of opportunistic branding is far from exclusive to 9/11 memorials. In 2014, a hashtag focused on the stories of domestic abuse survivors, #WhyIStayed, began trending on Twitter, and it didn’t take long for brands to plant their feet firmly in their proverbial mouths, as DiGiorno Pizza did with this particularly tasteless attempt to cash in on the hashtag:

5: Multiple Account Maladies

Ever tweeted something from a personal account when you meant to tweet from the corporate account you manage? Then you’ll know how catastrophic – and easily – this kind of social media mix-up can be.

This particularly social snafu happens regularly. A brand’s social account posts an update or tweet that reflects poorly on the brand, which is then followed by either profuse apologies or indignant, transparently fake excuses about accounts being “hacked.”One especially memorable example of this came courtesy of British cellular provider Vodafone UK in February 2010, when the official Twitter handle of the company tweeted a truly vile, wildly offensive homophobic tweet. (I won’t include an image of the offending tweet here, but you can read this story in The Guardian to see what the tweet said.)

As is typical in such situations, Vodafone deleted the tweet immediately, but soon realized that everything lives forever on the internet after hundreds of users screengrabbed the tweet and reposted it. The company apologized to its followers in general and on an individual basis in the hours that followed, and later issued a statement that claimed an employee at the company’s customer service center in Stoke was responsible. That employee was subsequently fired, but the damage done to Vodafone UK’s brand lasted long after the rogue employee was given their pink slip (or P45, for our British readers who have no idea what a pink slip is).

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