The fail trail – the do’s and don’ts when a social media PR crises hits [infographics]

How United Airlines failed in a social media crisesMore often than not, silence is never the best option when it comes to company gaffes.

A holding statement acknowledging an issue is good, it shows empathy and action. The next step is to establish the facts of the scenario and to make a further, timely response when these are established.

With that in mind this infographic from social media monitoring firm SDL illustrates recent real world case studies of smart Do’s and Don’ts when a crisis hits. As we well know by now some companies get this quite wrong whether it is Starbucks, Tesco and horsemeatFemfresh, Waitrose, McDonalds, GapQantas or Ryanair the archetypal “analogue brand in a digital world”. It is a long list.

There are more, of course, and here we can see the story of what happened when United Airlines broke a passenger’s guitar string. We can see that when that video hit 1.4 million views in just four days, United Airlines online aggregate sentiment plummeted 14.3% from its pre-crisis average.

The coping strategy that United applied was to stand-off and hope it would all pass over in time. The next wave of response was to cheaply buy back favor and positive mentions by issuing Starbucks gift cards to passengers, who in turn shared with their social networks how great it was to get a free coffee from the airline.

This coping strategy is paper thin and the equivalent of using a band aid to ‘fix’ the problem. It took four weeks for sentiment to return to the pre-crisis average.

Conversely, in the case of Domino’s pizza, two employees made a YouTube video of themselves adding certain ‘nasal delicacies’ to pizza orders. This very quickly snowballed into a righteous backlash and so an acknowledgement and intervention was required.

The key to this response and coping strategy which saw Domino’s wrestle back a 22% drop in aggregate sentiment in three and a half weeks was for the CEO to issue a YouTube video whereby he apologised and explained that legal action was underway for those that did the deed. The key here is fighting fire with fire, containing and resolving the issue on the same platform!

Infographic via SDL.

  • Martin Ballantine

    Well, duh. Just goes to show that, for all the obtuse and convoluted twaddle talked up by many Social Media agencies/’experts’, dealing with a customer complaint/problem just comes down to applying old school rules – via new school media.

  • James Ainsworth

    Thanks for sharing the infographic. I think it is key that the right response can have a significant impact. Dominos kept their response to the same Platform to limit the spread. United ‘cheaply’ bought favour and didn’t tackle the root cause of the problem, the band-aid of responses and Nestle going in for over-zealous censorship created a long-tail of negativity.

    James Ainsworth
    Social Media Manager – SDL Social Intelligence

  • Nick Taylor

    Loved this infograph – to often do I hear of SME’s shying away from negative comments/press. If you openly discuss the problem and act in an professional, respectful manner, your brand will respected back.

    Sweeping things under the carpet and allowing a pool of negativity to grow only makes things worse.

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