Whatever your business, you probably need social media crisis monitoring much more than you think. It doesn’t matter if your business is low risk, it makes no difference that you avoid wrongdoing and it can even be irrelevant that you don’t even use social media, it can still cause you a crisis. Not convinced? Here are the reasons why for each of these scenarios.
WE HAVE A LOW-RISK BUSINESS. Some companies operate in such risky businesses that they are, or at least should be always braced for a crisis and recognize that their social coverage is going to be mostly negative. Military contractors, oil companies and drug makers, for example, should know that what they are doing is bound to provoke some reactions. But what about the others? You might think that a soft toy maker or the Red Cross have nothing to fear but this is not true. There is no such thing as a low risk company because everyone can have rogue employees, everyone can have accidents, everyone can be caught doing something wrong. If there is a wave of employee injuries it doesn’t matter if you make teddy bears or landmines you can still get into trouble. Look at all the issues Apple has had with subcontractors in China.
WE DON’T DO ANYTHING BAD. You don’t need to be engaged in any wrongdoing to get caught up in a crisis. Sometimes the crisis can be provoked by a rogue employee, a misunderstanding or an honest mistake. Earlier this year, Heineken was accused of sponsoring dogfights when a photo of a dogfight in a room decorated with Heineken banners started circulating on Twitter. Their explanation was that they had used the room the day before and just forgot to remove their branding (I’ll bet nobody at Heineken will make that mistake again). In another recent case Stephen Fry tweeted to millions of followers his annoyance about an iPhone app. The maker insists that he must be mistaken, but the damage is still done. This kind of no-blame crisis is much more common than you might think.
WE DON’T USE SOCIAL MEDIA. This is the case that surprises most people but it shouldn’t. You can get negative coverage on TV whether you advertise on TV or not and it’s the same in social media. Actually it is worse. If your company is getting negative social media coverage and you don’t have your own voice represented then you will find it much harder to defend yourself. This usually affects small businesses like restaurants, where customers or sometimes even employees are tweeting or sharing negative comments on Twitter and Facebook. In one case a waiter engaged in a confrontation with a dissatisfied customer without the knowledge of the management; in another, employees posted critiques of customers that leaked back to the people involved. It can also happen to larger companies that are not truly engaged in social media.
Exactly how you monitor your social media reputation is up to you. There are plenty of free tools that allow you to monitor all social media for your brand or other keywords. There are also more sophisticated paid tools that will give you a clearer picture and fewer false positives. You could even pay humans to do the monitoring, which could be useful in cases where your brand is not mentioned explicitly but is clearly implicated by another word or hashtag – like when the Red Cross beer tweet started a flood of tweets with hashtag #gettingslizzerd. Whatever you do, though, if you have some kind of monitoring in place you will be able to put out fires while they are still small enough to tackle, or at least have more time to prepare an effective response.