According to checkfacebook.com Kenya has 8.7 million Internet users of which 1,195,500 use Facebook. The number of twitter users in Kenya is not documented, but most estimates put it at hundreds of thousands. This population of IT-savvy users which continues to increase want immediate answers in the wake of a crisis; because they are well-informed and know what they want. They cannot be ignored and brands must set a good foundation in preparing on how to satisfy them. In the wake of unexpected crisis, how are brands prepared in helping mitigate the negative effects of a crisis? A social media crisis is an issue that arises in or is amplified by social media, and results in negative mainstream media coverage, a change in business process, or financial loss. Below are some of the strategies that brands can employ in order to be well placed in the event of a crisis.
- Internal preparation mechanisms necessary: A research by the US-based Altimeter group reveals that 76% of Social media crises in businesses can be averted by preparation. Yet 56% of all companies lack such a process, even though more than ¾ of crises could have been diminished or potentially averted. Many companies are jumping to the social media band wagon without a clear preparation strategy for unexpected crises in the business. The challenge with social media is that in case of a crisis occurring in a business operation system, there’s a danger that the crisis can be amplified in the social media space faster than in a typical situation and this could have a devastating effect on a brand’s image. Any serious brand on the social media space should know this fact and must set a serious internal plan of preparedness on how to tackle any crisis. The same report by Altimeter group advises brands to develop a social media crisis response plan which outlines roles, responsibilities, and possible actions.
- Investing in quality products and services is a must for brands. Investing in social media without investing in quality products and services is going to be counter-productive. Companies must therefore be keen to ensure that they invest in quality technical systems that guarantee provision of quality products and services. Otherwise what would be the need of investing in social media yet your service or product is crap?
- Formulating a social media policy is a must for brands. A social media policy sets the guidelines and rules that staff should adhere to while on the social media space. For example; should all staff represent the company on social media or only selected staff whose line of work demands them to? A social media policy that not only protects the company, but also encourages employee ownership is useful. According to the same report by Altimeter group, advanced companies do not just dictate guidelines about disclosure or confidentiality – they empower employees to use social media professionally. For example, IBM made a strategic decision to embrace the blogosphere and to encourage their staff to participate back in 2003.
- Setting up of a competent social media team which is well-trained and equipped with necessary skills: The other thing that companies should do in order to prepare is to train concerned staff with social media skills. Assembling a dedicated team which is responsible for coordinating social business efforts across the enterprise including high-level strategy, governance, training and education programs, research, measurement frameworks, and vendor selection is key according to the same report. This team is led by a leader such as a social strategist, with support from roles such as community manager, social analyst or a social media manager. Often, this team reports to marketing or corporate communications departments. As an example, Adobe assembled a social media Center of Excellence in 2009, after a company-wide audit found that the company lacked knowledge sharing, standard metrics, common policies, and an overarching strategy for social business.
- Monitoring brand mentions in social media is key: This point is well explained in another article which you can look at.
- Measuring ROI is useful for justifying more investment: Without measuring the impact of social media, it is difficult for a company to have an effective planning and evaluation mechanism. Within the social media unit, companies must set a system that helps track every effort or investment on the social business. It also helps increased understanding of the impact of your work and offers a justification of the value of your work to the people who matter – internal and external stake-holders. Measuring return on investment (ROI) helps in knowing whether set objectives were met.
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