Wednesday, September 7, 2011

New Study Shows Most Companies Not Prepared for Social Media Crisis. Are You?

Ragan’s reported that while many companies are eager to employ new social media technology to promote their businesses, most are not equipped to handle threats associated with that technology.

The report was based on a recent study conducted by the Altimeter Group. So, how does a company know if it is facing or is susceptible to facing a social media crisis? According to the study, “to qualify as a social media crisis, an event must have one of these four effects: It causes major media coverage, necessitates changes in company processes, directly causes a decrease in revenue, or results in fines from the government.”

While some companies have put social media policies into place to monitor their online presence in an effort to control branding, reputation and even the safety of trade secrets, many have not communicated these policies efficiently to their employees and have not regulated them or even updated them as new social media outlets surface. To rectify this, the report suggests that “processes for what to do should be shared companywide. Companies should have formalized social media crisis response plans ready to go. More than half the companies surveyed didn't have one.”

Think about your company’s online social media activity. Do you know what’s posted daily about your company and where and why it’s being posted? Do your read the comments section on your blog or corporate Facebook page? Furthermore, do you really know who you’re following on Twitter and who is following you?

Ongoing social media training programs for employees and high-level administrators is an integral part of crisis management and is vital in ensuring that a social media crisis doesn’t damage your business. Companies should develop a solid crisis communications response plan, not entirely unlike a natural disaster response plan or fire safety plan, that incorporates a strategy for what employers and employees will do and say should an emergency arise.

If a social media crisis hit your company today, would your employees know what to say to the media when they call?