Sunday, August 17, 2014

Crisis Communications 101: When to respond to an incident

One of the biggest challenge facing crisis communications practitioners is making the decision of whether to respond to an online crisis or not. If the incident is not set to go viral, a response may be the tipping point that makes it go viral. On the other hand, if the incident is set to go viral and the company does not respond and get ahead of the story, the crisis may take on a life of its own and the company can then only do damage control.

One technique SG Social Media Guru effectively uses for our clients is the monitoring of online influencers. For any story to go viral, the story must achieve critical mass. And critical mass can only be achieved when sufficient websites pick-up the story. In Singapore (and any country for that matter), there will always be influencers. Depending on the company we consult with, the list will vary. However main influencers in Singapore include Channel News Asia, STOMP, Hardware Zone, The Real Singapore and The Online Citizen.

In our work with our clients, whenever a negative online mention is picked-up, the team at SG Social Media Guru would start monitoring the influencers' Facebook pages as well as their websites to determine the magnitude, trajectory and the contagion effect of the comment. Magnitude is used to tell us how concerned people are over the incident and the proxy we use is the number of likes, shares and comments. Trajectory on the other hand is used to measure the direction of the anger. Measured at hourly intervals, the rate of increase in the number of likes, shares and coments (and the tone of the comments) are used to determine whether the concern will spark anger. The third and final factor we monitor is the contagion effect and this relates to whether other influencers pick-up and build on the story. If the story stays localized on a particular page and does not "spread", the probability of it going viral is reduced.

Thus while it is impossible to predict with 100% accuracy which story will go viral, SG Social Media Guru believes that crisis communications practitioner can use the factors of magnitude, trajectory and contagion to make an informed decision on whether to respond to a crisis or not.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Crisis Communications Tip for Singapore Companies - Importance of the AUP

As companies increasingly start to establish their online presence and use platforms like forum pages, blogs and even Facebook pages to engage their customers, crisis communications (or issues management) training is now a must. This is because the anonymous nature of the Internet makes unfounded attacks on the company a real possibility. These attacks can come from disgruntled employees, dissatisfied customers or simply online trolls. Regardless of who initiates the attack, a poor response can do serious damage to a company's brand and reputation. Unfortunately, avoiding an online presence is not an option as an online presence is essential to a company's viability and success.

One key element in the effective management of unfounded attacks is through the use of an Acceptable Use Policy (AUP). This AUP should be prominently displayed on the company's forum and Facebook pages which tells users the "rules" for using the platform. The AUP should specify in detail what is not allowed and also state that failure to abide by the rules will result in the comment being deleted and the user banned from future use of the page. Users should also be informed that using the page is implicit acceptance of the rules and the platform owner's right to moderate the page.

Without the AUP, page administrators will find it hard to moderate unfounded allegations and ban trouble-makers. The trick to using the AUP well is not to totally delete negative comments, but to 'delete and replace' with a message telling the poster that his comment has been moderated as it breached whichever rule of the AUP. The poster is then invited to repost his comment in accordance with the AUP, but will be permanently banned from the page if he/she continues to post comments in breach of the AUP. This second step is important as it demonstrates that the company is not exercising censorship, but simply playing its role of maintaining a conducive environment for friends and fans to engage with each other.

In summary, while there are dangers with regards to companies embarking on a social media presence, the needs outweigh the dangers. Having properly trained social media managers who know how to manage social media platforms will reduce the risks.
 
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For a no obligation consultation on how to establish social media platforms to engage your customers, email our principal consultant at Justin[a]cwfongandassociates.com.

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