I’ve just finished listening to the fantastic Smodcast for Kevin Smith about his experiences with South West Airlines, which comes fresh on the tail of last weeks twitter furore over Paperchase using possibly plagiarised designs. Now, I don’t want to discuss who’s right in these two situations, but the problems the respective companies have had dealing with the online response.
It seems that both of these social media torch mobs grew before the companies had any chance to respond, and that then the corporate tweeters and press offices were trying their hardest to be heard in a crescendo of angry tweeters, commenters and private conversations happening on facebook. However, these companies were constrained by circumstance; an evening tweet by Neil Gaiman and Kevin Smith tweeting, pretty much continuously over the whole weekend.
Especially, of course, if the incident that sparks the pitchfork-wielding online mob takes place in the evening, in a different time-zone or at the weekend; companies don’t have the crisis management teams in place and can’t put their side of the story forward. Heck, even with low level grumbles about service, if I’m using my social tools I expect a response at the weekend or in the evening. It’s unfair, but it’s also the way twitter works…it’s people, and people use it 24/7.
I’ve been thinking about this as a problem; we can use CoTweet, and have Social Media policy in place, but what happens in the (up to) 48 hours before your company representative can say something. The story forms without your participation, and it’s probably going to be wrong, or at least sensationalised.
You probably can’t ask your staff members who use social media to monitor company mentions in down-time, and generally the situations that you need to deal with here will require informed insiders, not the services of an outsourced social media team. What can be done about this? Any readers found good solutions?