Issues Management in the Era of Social Media

It used to be that the worst-case scenario for a business in a crisis situation was a lead story on an evening network newscast or a story on the front page of the morning paper. Today, the greater risk for companies is what happens to that story when it is shared across social networks in real time. In the era of social media, not only do unexpected sources have the opportunity to say, report and offer opinions at will, but they are able to do so without any type of factual check and balance. The information lives online in perpetuity and can have material impact on a company’s brand perception and reputation.

The first two hours of a crisis can determine the public’s perception of an organization - Taco Bell, Domino’s and Netflix are just a few of the large brands that have experienced these types of situations in recent history. Executive teams need to understand that it is not a matter of if an online crisis is going to happen, but when it will take place.

The GroundFloor Media Online War Room™

How do companies effectively prepare to respond to negative, detrimental or even false information on social media platforms? GroundFloor Media’s (GFM) digital communications and social media teams developed this proprietary tool in house to simulate sensitive, and often emotional conversations that can potentially put a company under attack in a matter of seconds. The Online War Room™ is an online, secure and proprietary tool that allows our team to work closely with a client to create customized training sessions that mimic online crisis and issues management situations, in real time, across multiple social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter and the blogosphere.

When is the Online War Room Useful?

The Online War Room can serve a variety of purposes for virtually any organization. The chart below outlines several uses for businesses falling into three categories: those without a social media response plan in place, those that have a response plan but have not yet tested it, and those who have a known issue on the horizon that may spark unfavorable social media conversations.

No Response Plan Response Plan Not Yet Tested Known Issue on the Horizon
Identify potential issues to address in a formal social media response plan Identify additional issues to address in a social media response plan Prepare for the difficult conversations surrounding the known issue
Assist with the build out of a social media policy/response plan Test, and then revise the existing social media response plan Test, and then revise messaging surrounding the known issue
Assist with the build out of social media properties Measure a company’s level of preparedness for online issues management Allow businesses to become confident in their use of social media as it relates to the issue
Measure a company’s level of preparedness for online issues management Allow businesses to become confident in their social media engagement strategies Further develop the social media response plan based on findings from simulations