Social media when managing a crisis is crucial to a brand. It’s a form of two-way communication between brand and consumer, just as if the conversation happen in public. Consumers have high expectations, brands are expected to listen, respond, and be timely/responsive, informative, adaptable, sincere, and honest. Because every move of the brand will be scrutinized under microscope, brands need to be much more cautious, sincere and honest or more than likely it will go viral. Once it does, the internet never forgets.
Ignoring consumers on the internet is never good way to go because if you need want people to put into a brand, they have to be able to trust it. So let’s imaging, you are talking to someone about a complaint and the other person just starts to walk away. Are you going to trust that person? Of course not, you probably would find it disrespectful and start wishing for its downfall. Luckily for those jilted consumers who wouldn’t normally voice their concerns in public, social media lets us be honest behind our computer without even having to deal with the 9 to 5 schedule. In some cases we are even able to find people with similar issues and then there’s magic. For brands, it’s not in their favor to let this grow, because the brand name is always going to be connected to whatever the crisis is. So the quicker a brand can give a sincere and honest response plus an apology relating to the situation is better.
Just like my favorite example to use for what not to do during a crisis, My favorite neighborhood, Applebee’s, who in 2013 went through a social media crisis or meltdown on social media after a waitress, Chelsea Welch took a photo of another waitress’ customer’s receipt, which said “I give God 10% why do you get 18,”. Applebee’s then fired Welch, which the people on the internet quickly responded back but with groups and hashtags to boycott the restaurant. Applebee’s, at first, didn’t response to the masses but also disabled Facebook’s feature to allow visitors’ comments, so by the time they realized that this wasn’t some small incident, but a big one that would have tremendous impact on their brand, they had went viral.
Applebee’s did eventually respond, but because it was in favor of the customer than Welch and masses that we’re expressing their concerns. Applebee’s falls into one of the worst social media crisis, I’ve seen personally. From being hypocritical for the reason behind the firing, deceitful in delete/hiding negative posts, arguing with people and in one night changing the way people view the brand. It’s also a great wonderful guide of what not to do in a social media crisis.
R.L. Stollar has a great photo essay on the Applebee’s Tip Gate on his site Overturning Tables.