Social Media: 3 Disaster Planning Tips

The Challenge:  Domino's Pizza. GoDaddy. Chrysler. Mattel. The Gap. Nestle. And the list goes on. Some of the biggest brands have suddenly found themselves entangled in social media crises that no one could have predicted ... but that we all must now plan for.

Social Media Crises on the Rise
These crises were sparked by thoughtless, tactless, and/or malicious social media postings. Whether the postings were true or false, whether they originated from within or outside the company, they eventually became big mainstream news in both traditional and interactive media.
Social Media Disasters
The risk of instant, devastating damage to any brand, large or small, is now higher than ever ... and the trend is only accelerating.

In this environment, the question arises: Should your enterprise simply wait for a disaster to happen?

The obvious, imperative, and increasingly impossible-to-ignore answer is "No."

4 Takeaways for Marketers:

Here are four best practices you can implement right now, before the storm hits, that will reduce the chances of your enterprise being "blindsided" by a social media disaster:

Best Practice #1: Identify the Communication Channels That Matter Most. 
You must know ahead of time where and how your current customers, prospects, and advocates now communicate about you and your brand. Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube are likely environments, but certainly not the only ones to consider. Decide who within your organization will be responsible for handling messaging in each of those channels during a crisis. Do this now.

Best Practice #2: Monitor Social Media References to Your Brand. 
Two essential tools for keeping tabs on what people are saying about your company, its brands, and its promotions are Google Alerts and Twitter's search tool. Other tools will be found in specific on-line environments. If you're not now monitoring for daily, or even hourly, intelligence on what is happening in interactive media and how it affects your enterprise, start.

Best Practice #3: Create a Virtual Customer Council.
When a crisis hits, you will have minutes or hours -- not days or weeks -- to hone your message and respond. When you do, be sure to take advantage of existing online relationships with your best customers. Identify your "top ten" (or twenty, or however many) online advocates who are satisfied customers. When the storm descends, take their counsel and get their feedback before you make any major decisions about how to respond to the crisis. Ask for their help in addressing false or malicious communications about your brand.

Best Practice #4: Of course, once the storm does hit, you must BE ACCOUNTABLE for problems that actually exist, and fix them.