Reputation Management

Reputation management is a tricky thing in today’s social media landscape.  While the days of rogue tweets being sent out by an employee seem to be much fewer than in previous years, the power of social media when it comes to a brand’s reputation is huge.

The best thing a brand can do to be prepared for times of crisis is to have a solid plan in place.  Having strategies in hand whether you’re dealing with a disgruntled customer or employee, or are on the wrong side of a trending hashtag, are crucial if you want to make the best of of a bad situation.

Key components to a social media crisis plan are:

  • Reply swiftly.
    • People don’t just want a quick reply, they expect one.  Not replying quickly is equated to not caring.
  • Acknowledge you are listening.
    • Even if you’re in a holding position, let them know they’ve been heard.
  • Be honest about your mistakes.
    • Did you make a mistake?  If so, apologize.
  • Be human.
  • Write like you would talk to them if they were in the same room with you.
    • “I’m sorry… “ “I know how you must feel..” “We will work to make sure this will never happen again…”
  • Explain why it happened, and explain your course of action.
    • What will you do, and what have you already put in place to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
  • Follow up afterwards
    • This isn’t always done, but following up after the crisis has ended is an added layer of customer care.

Unfortunately, the Seattle Seahawks had such an occasion to test out their social media crisis plan on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.  After their incredible comeback win against the Green Bay Packers in overtime of the NFC championship game, the Seattle Seahawks posted a photo of their inspirational quarterback, Russell Wilson, as an MLK Day tribute on Twitter.

Here is a copy of the tweet:

They later deleted the tweet.

Many folks responded very negatively on social media, expressing negative comments that the Seahawks would compare winning a football game to the fight for civil rights.

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This was just one of many, many tweets admonishing the Seattle Seahawks for what many believed was a poor choice of a MLK Day tie-in.

The Seahawks then issued this apology:

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After which there were more mixed comments.

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So, let’s evaluate their response, based on the key components listed above.

  • Reply swiftly.
    • The Seahawks posted the initial tweet at 2:45 and by 4:28 had issued their apology.
  • Acknowledge you are listening.
    • Deleting the tweet and issuing the apology also does this.
  • Be honest about your mistakes.
    • They even used the words “We apologize.”
  • Be human.
    • The Seahawks were clear that they did not intend to make the comparison to civil rights.
  • Write like you would talk to them if they were in the same room with you.
    • They didn’t sound detached; they used a tone that was sincere. (and I’m a Packers fan!)
  • Explain why it happened, and explain your course of action.
    • Again, they said they didn’t intend to make the comparison of a football game to civil rights.
  • Follow up afterwards
    • I didn’t find any follow up.  I don’t think it was necessary in this case because the offended party wasn’t just one person.  To have followed up after their apology may have reminded folks of their mistake after the crisis had dies down.

Based on their reaction, the Seahawks clearly had a plan in place to deal with a social media crisis, or, at the very least, had a team in place to deal with the crisis when it happened.

What do you think?  Did the Seahawks do the right thing?  Would you have responded differently?

I Trust Mike Rowe

Questions about the Trust

What is trust, exactly? The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines trust as, “belief that someone or something is reliable, good, honest, effective, etc.” It then goes on further to say trust is “assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something one in which confidence is placed; dependence on something future or contingent.” I think this is why the notion of trust on social media is such a hard thing to define.  In terms of trusting an individual online, it’s hard to feel those feelings for people you haven’t spent time with.  So how do we determine whom to trust online?

Steve Rayson, in an article on Social Media Today takes a look at the equation authors Chris Brogan and Julien Smith argue for in their book “Trust Agents.” They say the formula for trust is:

Influence + Reputation = Trust

Rayson gives his reasons for a new formula:

social media trust formula-white-160

(Authority x Helpfulness x Intimacy) / Self-Promotion = Trust

I didn’t feel like their formulas represented why I trust people and companies on social media, so I tried to rewrite the formula myself.  Not liking the inclusion of self-promotion, I scrapped it.  Some of my favorite personalities online self-promote, and unless it’s the only thing a person does, it doesn’t bother me.  In fact, if it weren’t for their self-promotion I’d probably never have heard about them in the first place!  Then I replaced Authority with Credibility, Helpfulness with being Interesting, and Intimacy with Honesty.  This is what I came up with:

Credibility + Interesting + Honesty = Trust

Now, I wasn’t really good at math in high school, so I tend to feel like formulas like these are pretty good guides, but they can’t always explain why we trust who we do online.  I started to ponder, who do I trust on social media, and why?

I remembered a post I had read on Facebook from television personality, Mike Rowe.  It was about a liquor store owner who posted photos of shoplifters he’d caught on camera in his store as a deterrent to others.  Here’s the post.

Photo from Mike Rowe’s Facebook page

Now, I don’t agree with everything he says, I really don’t like any use of profanity, and I don’t follow him on social media, but whenever I’ve seen his statuses shared on Facebook or read an article about something he’d written there, I’ve always appreciated his voice.  I like that he’s real.  Can there be a formula for that?

From a business/marketing standpoint, his Twitter profile seems to be purely re-posts of his Facebook content, which isn’t an effective use of that platform.  But from a trust standpoint, I don’t care.  When he posts something on Facebook that is newsworthy, I read it, and I appreciate it.  His down-to-earth “everyman” persona on Facebook has become a bit of an anomaly to me.  He’s controversial, but he’s not mean.  I like that he comments on hot-topics and points out things that rub him the wrong way in our politically-correct society.  I find it refreshing from a celebrity, and that has led to my trust.   He is honest and entertaining.   As a result, I find myself interested in his television projects and foundation more.  So, my re-written equation actually applies.

Credibility + Interesting + Honesty = Trust

But the real equation that matters is:

My Trust = My Support

If I trust you online, I’ll support you.  I’ll watch your movies or television shows or buy your book.  I may even give to your favorite cause, if it lines up with my values.  The point is, trust is a valuable thing to gain on social media.

I’d like to hear from you!  What do you think of my formula?  Have you ever trusted someone on social media that you find it hard to explain why?

My Introduction to Social Media Ethics

holding hands

Greetings!  Thank you for visiting my blog.  My name is AnnMarie.   I’m a wife, mom, avid reader and sometimes writer, and I have a secret desire to someday be a polyglot.  When not online (and often in conjunction with being) you can find me cheering on my favorite sports teams.  Currently, I work directly with non-profit organizations, helping them tell their story in this digital world.   This blog is, primarily, a reflection of my curiosity about how to help brands and organizations form lasting relationships with customers, volunteers, and donors via social and digital media platforms.

While I was not an early adopter of the social media phenomenon like folks like Gary Vaynerchuk, once I joined the social media party, I became one of the most enthusiastic participants.  Now I’m the host!  As a professional, I think it’s always important to keep learning in this field.  The landscape is always changing, but many key concepts are lasting.  Recently, I’ve become more interested in the ethics involved in social media and digital publishing, so for the next several months that will also be one of the focuses of this blog.  What’s okay to publish, tweet, share, etc, and what’s not?   How do those choices effect people, brands, and the world around us?  I am fascinated by the the legal ramifications of ethical social media choices, but also how they effect things like brand loyalty.

Since I currently work with a viewer-supported television station and also a private school, things like privacy and copy write issues are usually my biggest ethical challenges.  What are the biggest social media ethical challenges with your clients?