There are many reasons why a company should be active and engaged on social media. Many of them are positive and can help a brand expand. The immediacy of the medium, the ease of access and the rapid sharing of negative content can also become a major issue.
CIO Magazine reports that one disgruntled ex-employee of music retailer HMV hijacked the Twitter account of and let the world know what was occurring internally as the firm went into administration. Don’t think this couldn’t happen to you – most companies are only one tweet away from a similar situation, says Anthony Mittelmark, an enterprise-grade digital expert and director at PwC Australia.
That view is borne out by the Digital Crisis Preparedness Report conducted by Burson-Marstellar. They found that almost 80% of firms worldwide fully expect a crisis to occur in the next twelve months and half of them think it will be fueled by online comments. It can happen in the blink of an eye. One tweet is all it takes. If that gets picked up and retweeted or blogged by someone of influence with a large following online the traditional media will not be far behind.
Ask Nestle. Or Papa Johns. Or Progressive Insurance. And the list goes on.
Can this be avoided? Yes, say the analysts at the Altimeter Group. Three-quarters of the online crises that occurred in the last few years need not have happened at all. The problem was that the brands were caught with their proverbial pants down. Their employees were totally unprepared for an online attack.
What can you do get prepared?
- Keep control of your social media passwords. Know who has access and change the passwords immediately if someone leaves the organization. If you know one of the password holders is going to be let go, change the passwords before you tell them. Change the passwords regularly for security.
- Be prepared for a hacker attack. It can happen to anyone. Have a plan.
- Training and education: make sure your employees responsible for social media are prepared for a negative incident or crisis. The Nestle Greenpeace attack and the Burger King incident were both accelerated by a lack of skills on the part of employees.
- Have a social online newsroom that publishes all your content and engages your various audiences. Prepare a “dark” crisis section that’s ready to go in case of an attack or a disaster.