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Panic Button

Source: WikiCommons

Every business with an online brand presence fears the day they run into a social media crisis. It could be anything, and there are plenty of recent examples. Taco Bell had an employee caught licking food, some companies have been hacked (not “hacked”, Chipotle), and sometimes drama that should be resolved within the company spills onto social media, such as the Amy’s Bakery freak out not too long ago.

While most brands with solid social media presences most likely have steps or employee guidelines to prevent problems like some of these, it is impossible to be fully prepared for a social media crisis. You can’t prevent hacking or service outages. But, as the business owner or social media manager, it is your job to manage the crisis and steer the ship out of the storm. If you do it well, you may even end up attracting some new clients. If you fail, your entire company can go up in flames.

As the VP of marketing for Nextiva, Yaniv Masjedi has some experience dealing with catastrophes both online and off, and he says the most important thing you can do is have a plan. “Every business should have a minute-by-minute strategy for how it will deal with a service shut down or public relations disaster.”

You need to know who will be handling the social media, how they will have access, and what the messaging across platforms is. Will you have a team responding to social media, or will it just be you manning the ship until everything dies down?

Masjedi published a step-by-step guide on the Huffington Post to help with handling these huge messes and preventing any extra damage once your social media has gone into full alert. You will have to be on your best game and be patient and understand with customers even when they are being rude or inappropriate, and you have to have a clear united message that doesn’t seem like a stock response, but an established response to whatever situation has arisen.

Before you ever run into these problems however, sit down and go over the guide and make sure you know how your company will respond in crisis. You can’t be prepared for everything, but you’ll be much better off knowing how you will approach any problems.

INFOGRAPHIC

In 2012, even nonprofits were utilizing social media. MDG Advertising looked into this developing trend and found that the inclusion of social media marketing meant more exposure and more donations for these organizations, as reported by The Huffington Post.

The innovation of ‘Giving Tuesday’, which grew over social media, is a glowing example of what is possible when online marketing is utilized properly. The model used by nonprofits is not revolutionary. Rather, it is simply a testament to why putting the time and effort into social media marketing is necessary.

While you browse the included infographic, think about how you can increase your conversions through a better social media strategy.

A recent study on the way youths around the world use mobile devices found that college students use their phones to text and interact over social media much more than any other use, such as surfing the web or gaming. The study, conducted by Prof. Paul Mihailidis of Emerson College in Boston, tracked 800 students of 52 nationalities attending universities in eight countries across three continents for a 24-hour period.

As Susan Moeller reports for Huffington Post, Mihailidis made five key conclusions:

  1. Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms are the dominant form of communication and new sharing.
  2. The content that is most shared is not thought-provoking articles, but rather viral videos and music.
  3. There is an addiction to mobile phones and these phones are tied in to a student’s identitiy.
  4. Connecting with friends online through a mobile device has become “more real than the real world.”
  5. Students demand a large number of options when it comes to apps, but only utilize a select few.

The upside to the study’s findings is that these mobile devices allow students to comment and share content more readily, making them better informed and feel more a part of issues.

The downside, of course, is the issue of privacy. With so much of a student’s life online, there’s a significant risk that somone other than a friend could collect and use their information.

Facebook, Twitter and, perhaps to a lesser extent, other social media platforms have become a public forum where ideas, opinions and news are exchanged. Peter M. Gunn, of Huffington Post, argues that because social media is a essentially a public service, it’s time to take it out of the private sector and into the public one.

Social media companies have, without a doubt, changed the way we communicate. But then, fire stations changed the way we fought fire and they began as private entities. There’s actually a good argument that your privacy would be better protected by a government run social media site than it is on Facebook. For example, when is the last time the Post Office ‘shared’ your personal information with another company? Now, when is the last time Facebook ‘shared’ your email address, demographic stats or browsing habits?

Also, Facebook and Twitter can’t protect First Amendment rights. Thanks to the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, which says law enforcement can gain access to electronic documents with only a subpoena, they can’t protect Fourth Amendment rights, either.

Perhaps, rather than the broad step of government run socia media, stricter regulations on existing social media could be put into place. Considering the deep pockets of the existing companies, however, and their current investment in lobbying, that seems unlikely to occur.

Certainly, there could exist a public-owned social media alternative that protects your freedoms, while the privately-owned alternatives continue to thrive. Case in point, the US Post Office doesn’t run FedEx or UPS out of business. It comes down to how much protection you want for your online communication.