I was writing about my terrible ordeal with the telemarketer for the iStrategy2010 conference (on Social Media, no less) [Part 1, Part 2, Part 3] when I stumbled upon this helpful article via Mashable: How to respond when Social Media attacks your brand?. Of course, prevention is much better than cure… so here’s another helpful article via Mashable: How to avoid a social media disaster. (I really love Mashable!)
For the PR and Communications professional, the impact of a crisis has been exponentially exacerbated by the power of social media. As I’ve said before, this is due to the powerful fact that social media is essentially a network, with implicit assumptions of trust and credibility (by network members), and a built-in capacity for rapid dissemination of news.
Now, anyone and everyone can now vent their dissatisfaction about your brand and, I assure you, they will have their own like-minded audiences (friends, relatives, total strangers) who are similarly equipped and empowered. If unmanaged, you will have an echo-chamber of negativity that will get out of hand.
Even so, any practitioner will understand that one can never fully “control” what customers and audiences say about one’s brand – especially on social media platforms. Most would also agree that it’s not something you want to do, since social media is essentially a social medium – i.e. you don’t own it, the community does. It’s exactly because of this freedom to comment, to voice opinions and to generally share information that results in the kind of customers you want – those who are engaged with your brand! These customers end up being that desired loyal fan base that spreads the word about your brand to their friends and family.
Still, there are a few steps that you can take to prevent or circumvent a negative PR crisis about your brand on social media networks online. Here’s what the Mashable article recommends: