Imagine you’re fighting a fire. How do you put it out? By cutting off either oxygen, heat, or fuel so it can’t spread.
The same principle applies when managing an online crisis. With social media enabling conversations and opinions to spread like wildfire, a single incident can prove detrimental for a brand in a matter of minutes – not just in terms of brand perception but also sales – and remembered for years to follow.
— Charles M. Blow (@CharlesMBlow) April 5, 2017
While a business may try to boost their brand reputation through content and branding campaigns, brand perception is ultimately shaped by consumer opinions and experiences. Thus marketers need to be extra vigilant in protecting their brand when an online crisis strikes, not just during, but also after.
Before deciding your course of action, it is essential to measure the impact of the crisis on your brand’s reputation, so that you can respond appropriately. This can be achieved by analyzing:
- What is being said or searched about your brand during this crisis
- Who is talking about it
- Brand perception during and after the crisis
1. Analyze What is Being Said and Searched About Your Brand
The first step to measuring the impact of an online crisis on your brand perception is to analyze the conversations around both your brand and the incident.
1.1 Volume of Discussions Over Time
Just like how you would keep track of how a fire is spreading, it is important to monitor whether the crisis is gaining momentum, so that you can determine whether it is necessary to respond and what measures to take.
- When did the crisis start?
- How has it been evolving between the time it started and now?
- When did discussions peak and what are the associated factors?
1.2 Keywords Used
Keywords contain clues on how people perceive your brand during and after a crisis. Use a social media monitoring tool to swiftly collect brand related mentions so you can:
- Identify key topics: What are the common concerns raised? Are people associating your brand with the crisis?
- Related hashtags: It’s not uncommon for customers to band together by tagging their complaints under a derogatory hashtag. Monitor the evolution of such hashtags over time to get more insight beyond brand related mentions or customer postings on your brand’s social media pages.
— the zac you see (@thezacyousee) October 8, 2017
Hate when it’s so crowded in the train #smrtfail
— voondek (@voondek) September 7, 2017
Pro tip: Did you know 85% of customers talk about a brand without including their social media handle? Don’t miss out on important insights by only monitoring posts on your branded social media pages or posts that directly address your brand.
Besides monitoring conversations online, marketers should also monitor search terms people are using about their brand as often during a crisis, search terms related to the crisis will spike. Understanding the keywords searched for can help optimize crisis communications by including these terms, so when users search for it they will also be shown the company’s official statement.
Before you get overwhelmed by the sheer volume of brand related posts when a crisis first occurs, especially for B2C companies, take a step back. Are the majority of posts directing anger at your brand, or are people merely curious, asking questions or discussing the incident in a neutral way?
When a pre-installed computer program was identified by anti viruses as a malicious program, the component supplier to the affected computer manufacturer wanted to know if there was a reputational risk. After listening to conversations on social media, they concluded that customers did not associate the crisis with them, and thus did not produce an official statement on it.
2. Who Is Talking About The Crisis?
While everyone can talk about your brand, not everyone has equal reach and influence. The greater this is, the bigger the impact of an online crisis on your brand’s perception, as more netizens become aware of and participate in the discussion.
Measure this impact by asking the following questions:
- If a customer, blogger or activist posted a complaint on social media, has the post gone viral or been picked up by mainstream media?
- Are other customers rallying around your brand, or fuelling the discussion by sharing their own negative experiences and/or boycotting your products and services?
- Has the discussion attracted other individuals or groups outside the original poster’s personal network?
In the weeks leading up to Singapore’s 50th national day celebrations , a group of animal activists hijacked the #SG50 hashtag to highlight the plight of captive dolphins at Resorts World Sentosa. However, while the activists banded together on Twitter, the conversation quickly tapered off after failing to get traction.
3. After the Crisis
Just like how you would assess the damage caused to your property after putting out a fire, it is important to monitor the crisis impact on brand perception not only when it occurs, but after as well. Only then can you determine:
- If your brand has fully recovered from the crisis, and customers have forgiven and forgotten
- Whether it is appropriate to launch a new content or branding campaign, or if your public relations team needs to address the crisis again
Assess the “aftermath” by considering:
- The length of time taken for discussions related to the crisis to plateau or taper off
- Whether the crisis is among the top search keywords related to your brand
Rebuilding your brand reputation after a crisis requires tact and good timing. Social media monitoring is a useful tool for:
- Identifying sites and influencers that defended your brand, whom you can work with in your post-crisis campaign
- Detecting key complaints which should be addressed in official communications
- Determining whether your brand should continue as per normal or take any recovery action, based on volume of crisis related discussions, conversation keywords, and sentiment towards your brand
No brand is safe from a potential crisis; use a social media monitoring platform like Digimind Social to keep track of your brand reputation 24/7 and be prepared. Schedule a demo with our social media experts today!