Category Archives: Crisis Management

Kitchen Aid’s Crisis Management success

imageWhat happened to Kitchen Aid the other week could happen to any brand  During the presidential debate, one of the team that managed the Kitchen Aid’s official Twitter account made an error that blew up very quickly.

The official @kitchenaidUSA account tweeted:

"Obamas gma even knew it was going 2 b bad! ‘She died 3 days b4 he became president,"

Kitchen Aid deleted the Tweet, and issued an apology

Cynthia Soledad, head of Kitchen Aid went on the record to talk to Mashable and apologise for the Tweet. She immediately took responsibility, spoke freely to the media and quenched the social media fire that burned.

It seems to have worked. Mashable published this image from Simply Measures showing how quickly the mentions of the brand reduced as the apologies and media interviews were broadcast.

Crisis management depends on three things:

Swift ownership of the issue by senior leader

Immediate apology or retraction of the offensive statement

Availability for follow up information

In the background, at the brand other things are important to ensure that damage is limited:

Adequate training and awareness of crisis consequences

Defined lines of communication and crisis plan

Damage limitation and virtual messaging team (PR / spokespeople / exec team)

And most of all – a co-ordinated response across the relevant channel. If it happens on Twitter, rectify it on Twitter, if it happens on Facebook, rectify it on Facebook.  Then ensure that other channels point to the apology and damage limitation statement. It has got to be authentic, it has got to be open, it has got to be honest.

And it has got to be done quickly – before brand perception starts its downhill slide

Eileen is a social business strategist, ZDNet columnist and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.

Image credit: smith_cl9 and Mashable

Crisis communication: Twitter and the Queensland floods

A year after the floods that devastated Queensland Australia, a report has been released by the ARC Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries & Innovation (CCI).  The report discusses the impact that Twitter had in enabling efficient crisis communication during the floodins episode..

There are some interesting call outs about Twitter and the use of hashtags in the top line points from the report:

The hashtag, #qldfloods became the central coordinating mechanism for floods-related user activity on Twitter.

50-60% of #qldfloods messages were retweets

30-40% of messages contained links to further information

Twitter users amplified emergency information and thereby increased its reach.

Twitter became a source for mainstream media to report on the flooding.

Users uploaded and distributed flood photographs taken on their smartphones and digital cameras to sites such as Twitpic.

Retweeting of messages focussed especially on tweets with immediate relevance to the crisis at hand

Over 35,000 tweets containing the #qldfloods hashtag were sent during the period of 10-16 January

More than 15,500 Twitter users used the hashtag #qldfloods.


Source: CCI Australia flood report

The report also shows how much we share images – especially related to disasters, with those not in the immediate area of the flooding participating in sharing the images and broadcasting links which were picked up by media and shared on Facebook.

There are pointers for emergency services to consider coordinating a crisis response using social tools such as Twitter and Facebook:

An established presence on Twitter is important, and on-going monitoring of Twitter activities is valuable.

The community is willing to support and assist the work of emergency services

Emergency services should develop comprehensive, flexible strategies for using social media in times of Crisis

Emergency services staff should be trained

Emergency organisations should engage with and respond to messages received from the general public.

If Emergency services and official organisations use social media effectively, then it is easy to get the right information spreading rapidly. False information is quickly suppressed as the report shows,whilst information about help is propagated to rebuild communities after disaster strikes.

Used correctly, Twitter and other forms of social media have valuable parts to play in crisis situations.

Unfortunately, there are still many organisations that don’t yet have the correct procedures in place.  But with the actions of people in the community, help and information gets to those who need it most.

Eileen is a social business strategist, ZDNet columnist and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.


8 ways to spot the social media snake oil salesmen



Everyone is a social media expert right?  I mean social media is so pervasive that everyone must know about it?


There are lots of companies just starting in social media and wanting to take their first steps – their first correct steps online.  They need help to get it right.

Unfortunately, there are lots of people who claim to be experts in social media.

They are advising companies on social media implementation without implementing a strategy or a plan.  They don’t have any ROI examples and they don’t have the depth or the breadth of experience to be able to offer balanced advice across the channels.

They don’t even have a plan implemented for their own company…

If you’re looking to hire a social media consultant to help you with your community implementation or social business strategy, there are some things that you can watch for when you’re looking around for a good consultant.

Be wary of anyone that is keen to push you towards one solution such as Facebook for your business.  Facebook is not right for every business, nor is Twitter. Make sure you talk through ALL of the possible choices with someone who knows the features and benefits of each

Watch out for over promotion.  Snake oilers are keen to promote their services over everyone else’s.  Watch what they write about.  If their blog is full of self promotion and self congratulatory posts, avoid them.  If their Twitter feed exhorts you to retweet them all the time, or like their Facebook pages, they are just trying to make themselves look good to other customers.

Look for longevity.  How long have they been working with social media?  Have they got years of experience across different platforms or are they new to the game – and only one step ahead of you? For example, Twitter has been around since 2006 and got popular at SxSW (South by SouthWest conference) in early 2007.  Enthusiasts and early adopters of the technology should have been on Twitter for at least a couple of years.  If you want to find out how long someone has been on Twitter use a tool such as When did you join Twitter to check them out

Personal disclosure.  Social media experts know how much personal and business information to share in their updates.  Whilst talking about business constantly can put people off, so can sharing too much information.  It might be ok for friends to hear their deepest secrets, but it doesn’t look good to businesses looking to hire consultants

Twitter follower / following count.  Lots of Twitter accounts automatically follow back, so some snake oilers follow these accounts to increase their follower count.  Be wary of people who follow thousands of users in the hope of getting a follow back.  The overhead of tracking thousands of followers means that quality engagement can not happen.   I know that tools such as Tweetdeck and Hootsuite can sort followers into lists, but the rest of accounts followed will be ignored

Tools and channels.  Blogs, wikis and forums are equally valid social channels for social engagement.  Your business might thrive with forum based implementation.  Make sure your social media specialist can talk through all of the different forum, wiki and blog options including in-house implementations and proprietary solutions.  Remember, it’s not just about WordPress and Joomla…

Engagement models.  Your snake oiler should be able to discuss engagement best practices, frameworks and crisis plans.  They should also be able to give practical examples of companies in similar to your industry.

Are they ‘walking the walk’?  Is their blog up to date with practical, considered credible posts?  Do they engage with their customers?  Are they practicing what they preach?  Do they understand legal, IP and data protection issues, and more importantly – how to solve them?

Remember – you are the customer.  you don’t have to hire someone when you’re not sure about their experience or credentials.  Ask them why they are proposing this type of solution for you.  Ask for examples, ask for ROI proof.  Check them out, ask others about their credibility.

Look for history.  Look for evidence. Suss out the snake oil salesmen and become more savvy with your social business hiring.

You can then relax and know that you’re in good, safe, social hands…


Image credit: Tim & Selena Middleton

Eileen is a social business strategist, ZDNet columnist and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.

SAAB files for bankruptcy: Fans rage at GM

SAAB have petitioned the Swedish government for bankruptcy, which signals the demise of the car brand.  SAAB is now owned by General Motors who are being blamed for the downturn by fans of SAAB.

Fans have flooded GM’s page with angry rants about SAAB as these comments on GM’s Facebook page show:


GM has wisely not decided to respond to the tirade on its Facebook page, but more importantly it is not deleting any of the negative posts.  It also appears to have a co-ordinated approach to its marketing communications and has had no flippant marketing campaigns or posts on their wall from other divisions of GM.

In times of crisis, when a brand has experienced the ‘occupation’ of  its brand page by disgruntled fans it’s important that a brand has a co-ordinated approach to marketing communications.  Unfortunately Qantas did not, offering prizes of luxury pyjamas in the midst of a union dispute.

When Nestle’s Facebook page was brandjacked over its policy of using palm oil in chocolate production the brand hit back:

“So, let’s see, we have to be well-mannered all the time but it’s perfectly acceptable to refer to us as everything from idiots right the way down to sons of satan with a few obscenities and strange sexual practices thrown in?”

It’s better to remain silent during the outburst of initial anger and go back with a considered measured response.

An ill timed, snappy retort might fan the flames of fury further and damage the brand reputation and image.  GM is doing the right thing by keeping quiet.  It will be able to craft a much better considered response if it waits for a while.

It remains to be seen however whether a considered response will pacify lovers of this iconic car, or serve to cause a second wave of anger over a cost based business decision, devoid of emotion.

Only time will tell…

Eileen is a social business strategist, ZDNet columnist and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.

Twitter: Not the place for a vitriolic argument

Dear me..

Sometimes Twitter is used as though its a personal channel of communication between 2 people and not the rest of the connected world. Personal insults get traded without any awareness that the rest of us can see what’s happening.  So people lash out and they don’t realise the consequences.

Last week, Otarian, the vegan restaurant announced that it wasn’t going to open a restaurant in London.  The food blogger Chris Pople commented on the fact that the restaurant in London’s Covent Garden was closed.  Unfortunately, Otarian took exception to this and responded bitterly.  Magnus has a selection of Tweets  on his storify where he talk about the story of a hashtag gone sourGrub Street picked up on the fact that the Twitter feed had gone haywire


Link to original tweet

This diatribe between Otarian and anyone that comments on Twitter  to them – or uses the hashtag otarianwatch is interesting to see.  It’s either a very clever bit of PR or utter foolishness on the part of Otarian.  Looking at the vitriol  on the stream from 5th – 7th August – I’m not so sure.  There’s anger certainly and a lot of bitterness, resentment and nasty comments.  All recorded forever on Twitter via links and screen clippings and blogs. 

As Judith says in her Tweet…  


A great example in how not to win friends and influence people  Social media specialists and Twitter trainers –  you can see that there’s still a heck of a lot of work still to be done…  Smile

Eileen Brown is a social media consultant and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business.

Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.

Even Fox News needs a crisis management plan

These Tweets rushed around the world last week.  News that Obama had been assassinated appeared on Fox News politics Twitter news feed…  Fox News apologised for the misinformation and any distress that might have been caused.


Hat tip to David Meerman for capturing the screenshots of the relevant Tweets before they were removed…

There’s a problem here that goes far beyond the normal Twitter hacking issue – which is bad enough.

We live in a 24 x 7 world of communications.  Fox News is a 24 x 7 news channel.  Why isn’t their social media monitoring 24 x 7 too?

Why didn’t Fox News have a very strong password to try to guard against hacking attempts?

Why didn’t someone alert Fox News politics that there was an issue?  Where were their alternate communications channels in case of a crisis?

Where were the remainder of the Fox News Politics team of Tweeters?  Was anyone authorised to respond across the business?

Why didn’t Fox News respond on Fox News politics behalf?

Crisis management plans are important.  See my article on social media crisis management and things that you need to consider, crisis wise – and create your own framework as soon as you can.  And make sure you are empowered to implement it – as soon as a crisis hits…

Eileen Brown is a social media consultant and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business.

Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.

Do you regret posting anything online?

imageYou know that awful moment when you’ve just clicked the mouse and fervently wish you hadn’t?

You’ve sent that email using the reply all function in Outlook and you’ve now sent your petty complaint to the entire office, or worse, the entire company.

You’ve published your blog post before you had all the information and you just know that someone is going to correct you for your error.

Perhaps you’ve posted an update on Facebook or Twitter.  You thought your update was full of pathos. You thought it was witty,  it was cutting.  it was ‘clever’.  And as soon as you hit send, you suddenly realise that perhaps the rest of the world probably doesn’t think the same way as you do. At all.

In an instant, your good humour has gone.

It’s an AWFUL feeling.  It’s that ‘Aargh’ moment.  You’re in agony as you realise that you really shouldn’t have posted it at all!  What’s worse, the agony of the Aargh moment keeps on revisiting you as you try to repair the damage and try to recover your reputation.

Most of us have posted something online that we’ve regretted.  Lots of us have emailed people that we shouldn’t have and then tried to retrieve the email and restore our dignity.  Some of us have posted status updates or pictures that have been, quite frankly, unsuitable for publication online.  Some of your updates might have been sent in the heat of the moment.  You might have hit send because you’re angry, you’re in a hurry, or you’ve even been careless due to a surfeit of alcohol.  Heaven forbid that you’ve been drinking when you’re online eh?

Fortunately, you’re not alone.  I saw this post on the Retrevo blog which has done a study which focuses on how how people use their gadgets.  Here are a couple of callouts from the results of the study:

54% of under 25year olds have posted something online that they regret.  32% of over 25’s have regretted posting

3% of those reported that it ruined their marriage or relationships and 6% had problems at work due to the post

51% of iPhone users have regretted posting something online – Damn You Autocorrect is full of examples of iPhone howlers.  Only 19% of non Smartphone users report doing the same

And according to Retrevo, we don’t appear to have learned from our previous mistakes. Will we ever learn?  Fortunately, the the study did highlight that technology now allows us to correct our mistakes more quickly than we were able to the past which is a small consolation for those of us suffering the agonies of remorse.

Getting rid of these Aargh moments is easy to fix in some of our transmissions.   You can delay sending your email by using the Rules Wizard which keeps your message in your Outbox for a specified amount of time.  If you use Outlook in a corporate or hosted Exchange environment, I’d strongly recommend that you set a default delay on sending all emails.  It’s a really sensible thing to do and it can get you out of tricky situations.  Even placing a 10 minute delay on sending the email will allow you to retrieve the mail from your Outbox, make corrections to the message, or change the recipient list.   You might not have meant to hit the ‘Reply All’ icon in your haste to send the message.

There are step by step instructions for Outlook 2003 from the Office web site  to walk you through the steps to set a rule.  You can apply it to just one message or to all outgoing mails.  A delay of 10 minutes should be just long enough to allow you to calm down and think about what you’ve just sent.

Now wouldn’t it be nice if we could do the same thing on Facebook and Twitter? It might save us a whole lot of embarrassment…

Image credit: Flickr

Eileen is a social media consultant and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business.

Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.