Social media has drastically increased the speed that public relations crisis can develop and spread. News can quickly spread and “go viral” through multiple social media channels. Slow or inappropriate responses during a fast-moving crisis can cause severe reputational damage on a brand. Loss of reputation almost inevitably leads to financial loses.
On-going monitoring social media for mentions of your company and its brands has become a vital component of PR and reputation management. With a social media monitoring service, organizations can monitor multiple social media channels simultaneously and analyze large volumes of data quickly through a single interface. Comprehensive social media monitoring can provide real insights into consumer sentiment. It can also identify a developing PR crisis before it explodes. And it can keep close watch over a crisis in progress.
Social Media Monitoring in Telecommunications
Deutsche Telekom, one of the world’s largest telecommunications companies, provides an example of how a major organization has successfully employed social media for crisis management. Responding to crisis quickly is especially critical in the telecommunications sector. Companies in that sector need to identify and track both known service disruptions and unknown problems not yet reported to the company.
The company created a “situation room” where employees track brand mentions, analyze data and measure mentions for sentiment, according to an article in RTInsights. The situation room also recommends actionable insights to departments throughout the organization. That prevents information from becoming “siloed,” a common issue in large organizations. Deciding how to apply the information is more important than collecting the data itself.
Its customized reports present insights that non-technical professionals can understand. “Since the reports for different departments serve different purposes, it’s extremely important for us to be able to individualize them,” said Robert Schwerdtner, a former crisis manager for Deutsche Telekom.
More Tips on Social Media for Crisis Management
Here’s some more advice from reputation management experts for using social media listening for PR crisis management.
Monitor your brand constantly. Continually monitor your corporate and brand names for news and social media comments. Monitor competitors and keywords describing your industry niche to better understand market sentiment.
Select your keywords. In addition to searching for your company and brand names, search for common slang terms and common misspellings, and names of top executives.
Consider Boolean search techniques. Boolean search terms can deliver more accurate media monitoring results and eliminate extraneous results by adding words such as AND, OR, NOT and punctuation like parenthesis and quotes.
Consider automated analysis. Automated sentiment analysis can grade the overall sentiment of large numbers of social media comments.
Answer negative comments quickly. Initiating friendly conversations, as opposed to confronting critics, and solving customer problems helps stop negative comments from spreading.
Vet information. When gathering information, be careful to verify information before acting on it, recommends Jason Jubinville at Echosec. Posts are often sensationalistic and embellished. Photos can be easily doctored. One red flag is that altered images typically take longer to appear online. Following the journalism standard of requiring two credible sources can prevent you from falling for a hoax.
Engage with posters. However, be careful what you say when a disaster erupts. In the earliest stages, simply asking for information is the safest strategy. Record the contact information of people posting frequently about the issue. You might need to communicate with them later.
Sentiment changes over time. By tracking how the number of negative, positive and neutral mentions are changing over time (and the specific content of the mentions), PR can see how their strategy succeeded over time, notes Caroline Roy, CEO of Mesure Média.
Identify influencers. Besides reporting what influencers are saying about brands and grading the sentiment of their comments, social media listening can identify and rank influencers to help PR prioritize its responses.
Bottom Line: In today’s world, social media listening is essential to responding to PR crisis. In addition, social media monitoring and measurement can help prevent crisis and gauge the effectiveness of the company’s crisis management strategy.
William J. Comcowich founded and served as CEO of CyberAlert LLC, the predecessor of Glean.info. He is currently serving as Interim CEO and member of the Board of Directors. Glean.info provides customized media monitoring, media measurement and analytics solutions across all types of traditional and social media.