Fa Ra Ra Ra Ra

“Oh, life is like that. Sometimes, at the height of our revelries, when our joy is at its zenith, when all is most right with the world, the most unthinkable disasters descend upon us.”

fa-ra-ra-ra-ra-12 blogs of a christmas story-carriejkeenan-thilllogistics-thillblogAs traumatic as the Bumpas dogs eating the family turkey was, the Parkers were able to turn it around and make it a great holiday. Even the dinner was smiling!

2011 has seen some rather spectacular corporate social media disasters. Some were handled well and some were not. Both the Chrysler F-bomb & Aflac/Gilbert Gottfried Japan tweet ended in firings. But the accidental #GettingSlizzard tweet  from a Red Cross employee ended with people turning it around and donating to the cause! There is no need to get into the repercussions of “Weinergate”. Just yesterday, FedEx had to deal with a budding crisis of its own. They took a proactive approach and responded quickly to the incident.

Are you prepared for an “unthinkable disaster” in social media? Most businesses will probably never have to deal with a social media crisis situation, but it is always best to have steps in place so that one won’t happen and a readiness plan for if it does.

Prevention –

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is not just a saying. Taking care in creating content and posting to social media channels is the simplest way to avoiding many potential pitfalls. Do you post over multiple accounts? Using tools like Hootsuite of TweetDeck makes switching accounts simple, but take caution and look before you tweet. If you must say something inappropriate or laced with profanity (as I have already blogged about, I believe those type of comments are best NOT being posted at all) take the extra moment to be sure you are posting on a personal account and not a business one.

When you have a lot of employees with access to social media, it is a good idea to create a social media policy explaining what is and is not acceptable. This can help you out in two ways: 1) When employees know there are limits and expectations, they are more apt to play by the rules 2) In a worst case scenario, having an official policy will work to your advantage if there is a need for any disciplinary action.

Awareness –
By just being aware of what is being said about your business across the social networks, you will be able to act fact and put your readiness plan into action. Make sure you are actively paying attention to what is being said.

Planning –

If the worst happens – how will you respond? Create a system of who and how things will be replied to. The most importing things to remember are to respond quick and correctly. Don’t let your employees go onto the defensive and attack back. Apologize if it is needed, correct any misinterpretations and fix the problems that you are able. Be prepared to take the conversation off of the public space and continue it in a private forum (in person, phone etc).

Taking care to manage your accounts and monitoring what is being said about your company can help prevent social media crisis situation, but if one occurs, be prepared. Handling it properly is a vital step to staying on top. While the situation may not be idea, you can turn it around into a positive experience for all involved.

What companies have you seen handle a sticky social media situation well?

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About The Author: Carrie Keenan is the Social Media Community Manager for Thill Logistics, Inc. out of Neenah, WI. (@CarrieJKeenan. @ThillLogistics) As a professional whose primary responsibility is working in digital media and audience building, Carrie has a lot of insight and information to share about how to professionally represent your organization across the web. Connect with Carrie via: Email | Twitter | Google+ | LinkedIn

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