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We all know just how easy it is for breaking news to spread digitally. Forget word-of-mouth and other verbal discussions. In a crisis situation, the online world is your worst enemy.
Standing alone, what happened in both incidents was very bad. What makes both situations worse is how they were handled by company executives.
Both companies responded in manners that trivialized the incidents. In public eye, that is a major no-no.
When disaster hits, your company will want to be well equipped with a defense plan. Lacking a brand strategy is harmful to a business in times of crisis.
Read on to learn how to keep your company out of public scrutiny through strategic brand management.
To avoid becoming the next bad headline, you need to be proactive in your brand planning.
Learning your audience's needs and concerns can reduce the risk of potential chaos. Lack of sensitivity or understanding on delicate topics is problematic.
Knowing threats is helpful in telling your brand's story without upsetting the audience. What are pressing issues they are concerned with? Is there a way you can provide a solution without further upsetting your target?
To prevent misunderstandings and critique, it is helpful to create an experience map. Experience maps guide walk you through how a certain activity can be perceived by your audience.
Many times, these maps are able to detect a 'worst case scenario' before they happen. They force you to review your brand strategy and determine if it is appropriate to execute.
These maps can be used to fight potential friction in every aspect of your brand planning.
Often times, our branding is too black and white, so to speak. Businesses become to one dimensional and think too rationally.
When a crisis hits, you need to remember that your audience's reactions are emotional. They are on the defense and are more likely to take offense to your reactions and responses.
The best way to bring them back is through effective strategic brand management.
To avoid causing extra chaos to an already bad situation, your company will want to respond emotionally. Be a human, not just a representative of the company.
Show that you understand why your actions or behaviors were wrong. Follow up by offering how your company plans to change for the future.
When you make your strategy more emotional, the audience is more likely to be receptive.
In the United Airlines example, their CEO's reaction was chastised because it was purely rational.
Most airlines do have some sort of protocol for when a customer is unwilling to give up their seats.
United's CEO's response fell short because it justified the security guard's excessive force. Since their terms and agreements indicated that customers may be subject to removal, they stood behind the guard's actions.
Your audience doesn't think in those terms. Your company may justify its action through rational terms, such as company protocols. However, this means very little in public eye.
At times, the opportunity presents itself where you get to explain your position. If that is the case, try to be as emotionally responsive as possible. Apologize when wrong and acknowledge the grieving of the public.
The public has usually already drawn conclusions from the headline before even reading on to learn more.
You should keep this in mind when deciding how to respond after a situation has arisen. The most successful instances of strategic brand management have pulled on emotional appeals.
It is highly recommended to have a staff member whose role is to watch your company's social accounts. This will help your business stay up-to-date with any pressing issues online that may affect your brand's image.
It should be noted that social media is often used as a channel to express disapproval. This can happen even in times where tension is unprecedented.
Nearly 1/8 of people take to social media to express dissatisfaction with a business or its product. Another 39% actively discuss businesses and brands on social media.
You will want to address these comments. They are what will come up when users search for your company.
Also, less than 3% of customers directly '@' mention the company they are discussing. That means you will want to use other search and analytical tools to address customers.
When other users come to your page, your posts are the first things they see. Show your company's concern through a meaningful, informative response.
Politely acknowledge their comments and inform through reassurance. Again be aware that your audience is looking for a humanizing element to your response.
In more extreme cases, dissatisfactory posts will be more widespread. You should try to respond to as many as possible.
If you are worried about not getting to everyone, it would be best to send out a company message. Since users aren't getting a personalized message, you will want to make this group response as human as possible.
Timeliness is also relevant in strategic brand management. Failing to respond in a timely manner will make your business appear neglectful.
Furthermore, digital monitoring can save your company from making a posting error online. To fully understand how to do this, you will again need to consider your audience.
Say there is a pressing issue of high concern to them. Responding or acknowledging may establish goodwill and build brand appreciation.
However, it may backfire and further anger your audience if it is a sensitive topic. Before reacting online, ask yourself if it is appropriate to respond to.
They say, "In every crisis is an opportunity." Effective strategic brand management means turns crisis situations into something positive. Use it as an opportunity to illustrate the company's core values of trust and quality.
Contact us at Holyoke Marketing to learn how we can further enhance your brand strategy!
Jason graduated with an MBA from American International College located in Springfield, MA. Currently Jason lives in South Hadley, MA and also works as the Marketing Coordinator for Silver Screen Design.