How To Use Social Media in a Crisis

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How To Use Social Media in a Crisis

Many businesses struggle to grasp the many ways that they can and will use social media. What good is a Facebook page when you’re trying to boost sales? There are a plethora of reasons why social media accounts are beneficial to both small and large businesses, including SEO, content generation, inbound links, customer service and brand awareness. The early adoption stage of social media for business is over – by now many of you should know and understand the value of having an account. However, when moving forward with a social media strategy, it’s important to know the power that social media has.

In a crisis, social media can be super handy. I have a couple of honest-to-goodness examples of the ways that I’ve seen social media help or seriously hurt a business in a crisis.

The Good

This week, I have been spending most of my days geeking out over the awesome lineup at the Firefly Music Festival coming up this June in Dover, Delaware. It didn’t take me long to know that I simply had to go to this summer festival. Early bird tickets went on sale Thursday at noon. A tantalizingly few tickets would be sold at a cheaper price for those lucky 5,000 patrons who bought their ticket RIGHT when they went on sale. Guess where I was?

12:00 rolled around, and the website crashed. No biggie, I told myself, it’s just overloaded and will refresh properly in a few minutes. However, two and a half hours later, I and all of my friends were still having trouble accessing the website. It was hard to tell if we’d be able to buy tickets at all, let alone at the early bird price.

Then we began to notice that the Firefly Music Festival Facebook page was posting updates the entire time that their website was down. Their posts ranged from “hey everyone, we’re here and we’re working hard,” to a flat out apology once the website fiasco was resolved. We were able to receive real-time information on what was going wrong and what would be fixed soon. While many customers were undoubtedly angry, having those regular updates kept my friends content to buy the next available tickets. We knew that despite their website issues, they were on their game.

The Bad (& The Ugly) 

Last week was the day of love, Valentine’s Day. One of the most common gifts given on V-Day, as we all know, are flowers. 1-800 Flowers is one of the more well-known flower companies, and unfortunately last week they became well-known on Facebook too. About halfway through the day, I noticed that many of the friends on my news feed were talking about the many negative comments on the 1-800 Flowers Facebook page. Curious, I checked it out.

All I saw were angry customers. Everywhere. At the time (about 5:00PM on Valentine’s Day) I didn’t see any responses from 1-800 Flowers. The complaints rolled in, and the high volume of negative posts by users became a bit of a joke. Here’s an example:

Keep deleting my complaint. go ahead. I can and will keep posting it all night long. DO NOT ORDER ANYTHING FROM 1-800 FLOWERS!!!!! The roses I sent my girlfriend today were dead. They offered her some crappy rainbow bouquet of flowers cause the roses that I ordered are no longer available plus some pathetic 30 dollar credit. She was on hold for over an hour. Now I’ve just been on hold for over an hour and they just hung up on me. SUPER HEATED!!!! And to top it off I‘m freakin deaf from the extremely loud hold music they had playing. Tomorrows phone call is gonna be a bad one. Please pass this on to everyone you know. See how they like it when social media works its magic. DISLIKE! DISLIKE! DISLIKE!

Ouch. Checking back on their page today, it looks like the company has since been reaching out to respond. As someone wise once said, it’s too late to apologize.

The lesson learned here is that social media can be a godsend in a crisis. Be sure that you have a plan for when that happens, and you will end up bolstering your consumer base once you’ve cleaned up the mess. If you’re lost when it comes to Social Media Management, download our Social Media Checklist to take care of the basics. Need help developing a Social Media plan? Contact GRM to learn more.

Image Credit: Sarah Klockars-Clauser 2010

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