Saturday, 12 November 2011

My first Social Media disaster

This week, I was lucky enough to be involved in my first social media shit storm.

Why lucky?

Well, it was brilliant because I actually felt like I was in the middle of something that many so-called social media experts claim to be so adept at avoiding.

I won't go into specifics, it's not really fair on anybody involved, but it's safe to say that, as expected, once I found out that a Facebook post of ours had gone viral, the first feeling that I had was one of fear, panic, frustration, and then finally EXCITEMENT.


Because it is a chance to turn a bad situation around. 

This is why you got into this job. It's not just to build neat apps, it's not to make pretty landing pages. It's crisis management, baby, and you simply have to be the best at riding it out.

You can write a community policy, you can have as many social meetings as you like, you can have all of the snazzy whistles and bells surrounding you and making your job as easy as possible.

But in social media, all of that preparation, education and advice can go up in smoke in the most spectacular way by somebody choosing to post something to a page that is at best questionable, and at the worst offensive to people.

Not reacting to it can wreck all of the blood, sweat and tears that you have put into a brand, TV station, radio station, clothing line.

You have to react quickly, and if you have upset people, you must apologise straight away.

And let me tell you something - you may remain calm, but people DO shit themselves. Try your best not to. Wear a nappy, or something.

Some people will tell you within the company - possibly people that don't see the benefits of what you are trying to do, or people who don't see what the fuss is about.

The one thing I would say to that is: Listen to them, and then be prepared to be honest, and disagree.

You have case studies of social media mistakes coming out of the ying yang - from Kenneth Cole to United Airlines...

You are the person they hired to put a tricky situation right. You deal with the pace and emotional flux that permeate Facebook, Twitter, Reddit and Google+ over the course of a day. You are wired into a situation room that only has one entrance, and one exit - and the public are waiting at the exit.

What do you say to them if you have upset them?

You say sorry. And if you are a decent person, you mean it.

And we meant it.