The Speed of Social

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By Christopher Breene, Founder, GFTB Digital

With social and digital playing such a big role in the media landscape, we asked our digital strategist Christopher Breene of GFTB Digital for his hot take on the latest social media scandals and how to handle a crisis.

Few things move as fast as social media. With stories popping up on Snapchat, Instagram Stories, Twitter, LinkedIn, and others - it's important to have a strategy in place to handle the speed of social media. We’re talking Crisis Management 101.

In many cases, when your company gets smeared online - or, even worse, when you make a huge misstep - everyone knows about in 140 characters. How embarrassing and even more importantly, how can you put out that media crisis fire that can tank your firm?

It’s essential for a savvy business to keep up with the times - so we created a handy 5-point checklist on the Oratorio blog for social media crisis management.

Step 1: Radio Silence
As soon as you see your notifications blowing up on Instagram, or mentions rising on Twitter, order your social media team to pause all content for the foreseeable future. If you don't, a smoking gun can become a dumpster fire. Radio silence is always the best first step.

Step 2: All hands on deck
In times like these, it's great to have an advisor or agency with experience in crisis communications to bring into the brain trust.  Call an immediate meeting and begin hammering out your statement in 3 formats – 30-second, press release, and social-friendly. 

Step 3: Write the Response
In writing a response, it’s crucial to think not only on your current crisis and whether your brand was in the wrong or right - but how the public will perceive you with only your statement in hand. Look forward, be compassionate, be better. This was the fatal flaw in United's recent fiasco.

Make sure that you respond to EVERY person who mentioned your brand, showed outrage, or demanded answers - at least once. This is the most labor-intensive part, but it does a lot more good for repairing your damaged reputation than ignoring customers.

Step 4: Never double down
If feelings were hurt, it is not helpful to double down. It will only make your brand look petty (see United again). In these instances, look inwardly and reflect. Take it as a moment for your brand to stand for inclusivity. Stand for what is right.

Step 5: Media
Take this negative coverage as a chance for positive damage control. Get your press team on the phone and get on camera to apologize and turn it into a learning experience.

With that, let's see if United and Pepsi follow this advice through their latest scandals - stay tuned.