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Social Media has been in the news a lot lately, especially in the military community. To ban or not to ban is the question. The debate is on-going and although both parties have valid points, I am with the group that believes that social media uses and its benefits outweigh its issues. At the end of the day, the camp that will win the argument is the one that has the backing by the most influential leaders. Social media and its use and monitoring take a lot of work and will require additional resources by the military, but the outcomes and results are far too important to ignore. Any business or entity that is in the public eye must engage its audience, it is truly the only way to grow and determine how to best serve its customers, audience or whatever the case may be. Social Media is like a real time focus group and an ongoing case study, it would be a waste not to engage in activity that can provide so much insight.
This post will discuss a few key steps to take when social media buzz goes bad and what are the most important things to consider in a crisis management situation. An example of “what to do” actually comes from the US Air Force community. Military has come a long way with the use of social media and it would be a set back if the ban takes effect. Although it most likely won’t affect Public Affairs, or at least not as much as regular troops, it is hard to preach something that is not embraced as a whole.
Social Media is great when your product or service is being endorsed, talked about, and new “fans” are being added by the minute. But what happens when a negative comment, tweet, or blog post goes viral? What about the risk of customers or even competitors hijacking the brand image?
The most important thing to remember is to monitor everything, and often. This is the first step to taking action. The easiest monitoring tool is Google Alerts and there are also similar services that charge a fee. It is crucial to be in the know about what is being said and it is one way to alleviate the loss of control which is one of the biggest fears that comes from social media.
Being in the know will allow for a quick response to a crisis situation. As I mentioned earlier, I wanted to talk about the US Air Force doing crisis management right. An individual tweeted that an Air Force C17 Cargo crashed in Texas. This is a very large plane and the perceived damage would be monumental. Within 52 minutes, the story was on CNN and other news outlets. The US Air Force immediately responded to verified that the story was not true. Getting both on Twitter, addressing news outlets and posting a blog on http://airforcelive.dodlive.mil/ Captain David Faggard, Chief of Emerging Technology for the US Air Force and Mr. Paul Bove a contractor for the US Air Force were able to do all the damage control. Biggest lessons take immediate action and reach out to the comment in the venue in which it was made, e.g. sending a twitter message in response to a negative tweet, etc.
Lessons to Keep in Mind in a Crisis Situation:
1)Have A Plan-it is impossible to predict situations, but having a general idea of how what the steps would in a crisis situation. If there is no such policy or guide line in place the situation can get out of hand quickly.
2)Determine If Negative Comment Can Go Viral-Most negative comments can be dangerous, but ones that don’t have the capability of going viral will not do much harm. Researching the credibility of the comment or the individual that wrote it is a good first step to take to determine if the comment has the ability to go viral.
3)Being Defensive Is Not The Answer– Explaining the situation and offering an apology if necessary are good ways to handle a situation without getting defensive as that will show that the particular company or entity is not approachable and not truly looking to engage.
4)Engaging=Learning-Sometimes a lot of good can come from a negative comment. Understanding public perception can help gauge branding efforts to address issues that are coming up in online conversations.