Bad News Gone Viral – What to do When Your Company Has a Social Media Crisis

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social-media gone viral - what to do ?

Social media is a great way to market your business. There are millions of people actively participating on these sites every day, and by participating in social media yourself, your company can reach these people as well as provide better customer service to your current customers.

But sometimes social media can cause a marketing crisis. If the wrong information goes viral, it can be detrimental to a company’s image.

When bad news goes viral.

Some companies have already experienced the crisis social media can create. A few years ago, Domino’s Pizza employees posted a video to YouTube in which they performed lewd acts to the franchise’s ingredients as they were making customers’ orders. This video quickly went viral, and Domino’s found themselves in a PR nightmare.

Chrysler also experienced a social media pickle when an employee at an outsourced social media company who had access to Chrysler’s official Twitter account confused it with their personal Twitter account and tweeted, “I find it ironic that Detroit is known as the #motorcity and yet no one here knows how to ****ing drive.” Not only did the employee lose their job, but Chrysler also canceled their contract with the outsourced agency.

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What to do if it happens to you.

The absolute worst thing your company could do in these types of situations is to ignore it and pretend it will go away. It’s true that eventually, another new scandal will occur, and your social media blunder will blow over. But if you don’t respond, it could do severe damage to your company.

The best thing you could do in this situation is to respond, and respond quickly. Apologize, and let everyone know that you are currently working hard to fix the situation or make them aware if the situation has already been fixed. If it takes you longer than 24 hours to respond, the crisis will only spread further and get worse.

It’s also important to use the same medium for your response. This way, you will be reaching out to the same people who already witnessed the original crisis. For example, Domino’s CEO responded to the YouTube video nightmare by creating a YouTube video apology. By doing so, he was able to directly reach those who viewed the original video.

If you respond to a social media crisis in the form of a written press release, you will not reach the same large audience. Plus, written press releases do not travel as fast as information shared via social media.

You should also consider implementing a social media monitoring software. This type of software will alert you every time your company name is mentioned on the Internet. If you see an alert that could become a social media nightmare, it will allow you to know about the situation when it occurs and give you time to respond quickly.

Social media can be great for business, but unfortunately, we cannot control what our customers are saying about our brand. By implementing social media monitoring tools, responding quickly to any adverse mentions of your company name and utilizing the same mediums, your company will be prepared in case a social media nightmare happens to fall on your shoulders.


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Travis McCulloch is a Public Relations Specialist working out of Los Angeles. In order to ensure all his work and writing is grammatically correct and mistake free he uses a grammar checker. In his free time he enjoys hiking at Sequoia National Park and drives up routinely in his Nissan.

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