Die By the Social Media Sword, Live By the Social Media Sword
By: Andrea Trapani
This week’s Movie of the Week is actually somewhat job-related. By now you’ve seen or heard about the disgusting Domino’s video that spread like wildfire over YouTube this week. The social media channels were ablaze with commentary and gawkers-on.
Of course, this would serve as a perfect example of every company’s fear with respect to social media: rogue bloggers or posters of content (in this case, a video) can damage a reputation in a matter of hours, potentially doing irreparable harm to a brand that took decades to build. For examples such as this, many owners of businesses small and large alike will tell you that social media is among a CEO’s worst fears. Look how quickly this can get out of control—beyond your control. Short of Draconian Internet usage rules, it’s nearly impossible to control everything your employees will say or show to the world. And, even then, you can’t control your employees’ Web personalities at home or after hours.
On the other hand, look at how powerful social media can be in the reverse.
YouTube itself, the very sword that slay Domino’s this week, served as the perfect crisis management tool for Patrick Doyle, President, of Domino’s U.S.A. Before social media and the Internet in general, the Domino’s PR team would be scrambling to draft statements, schedule interviews, get their spokespeople in front of as many cameras as possible, hoping upon hope that the sound byte that ultimately made the telecast or newspaper would carry the appropriate message to douse the flames of controversy. But that’s all it would be—a sound byte. A quote or two in a written story. With any luck, the quote would be accurate, and not taken out of context. With extreme luck, enough people would read the newspaper or click on the T.V. to see the story. And wouldn’t it be wonderful if everyone who had seen the video would get a chance to see the publicized rebuttal?
No doubt, all of that still plays a vital role in a company’s crisis communications strategy. But newly opened channels allow the company in the spotlight to deliver a complete, unfiltered statement in response to a given crisis—and an opportunity to speak directly to constituents. Not sound bytes, but full and complete rebuttal. It can be posted to the Internet for all to see in its entirety, on the very channel that doomed the company in the first place. Load the file up with tags and keywords, and even those searching for, in this case, the original disgusting video will see Domino’s response right alongside it. I did a simple YouTube search for the intentionally broad keyword “Domino’s,” and Patrick Doyle’s video statement was the first result returned. Not bad.
(Notice how Domino’s was not afraid to put the word “disgusting” in the description of their own video…no doubt an intentional attempt to attract traffic searching for the original video.)
For all our reticence to jump into the social media waters for fear of opening ourselves and our brands to scrutiny, we should at the same time be aware of and embrace the enormous powers of connectivity that these tools represent. These direct conversations with a company’s core constituents are invaluable to a brand’s ability to manage its reputation.
We needn’t fear the sword; we should be wielding it.