CEOs must step up in a social media crisis

In a sensitive political and social media landscape, even one wrong step by brands can make all the difference. And social media users want someone to blame.
Written by Eileen Brown, Contributor

With one wrong move or misinformed story, a brand's reputation can be shredded in seconds.

Although it is possible for brands to bounce back from social media backlash, the speed of response, or the person delivering the message, can have a huge impact on consumer opinion of the brand.

UK-based social media safety company Crisp Thinking recently released its 2019 Crisis Impact Report. In May 2019, it surveyed 2,000 consumers in the UK and US. It wanted to examine the impact of errors and the role social media plays in an effective crisis response.

But what constitutes a crisis? Crises mean different things to different people. Misconduct ranks high in consumers considering if a company crisis is happening, with almost three in five (59%) saying that ethical misconduct, or CEO misconduct, constitutes a crisis.

CEOs must step up in a social media crisis according to a new report zdnet
Crisp Thinking

In 2018, a logistical error resulting in a shortage of chickens forced KFC to close hundreds of UK outlets. In response to the crisis, the fast-food chain ran a bold advertisement: An empty chicken bucket with the classic logo reassembled as "FCK," followed by an apology for the shortage underneath.

Surprisingly after perhaps the biggest fried chicken crisis in history, the brand's strategy took responsibility and responded quickly to win back the hearts of consumers.

The Crisis Impact Report report showed that over half (53%) of consumers expect a brand's response within an hour of a crisis, and one in three (34%) expect a response within 30 minutes.

CEOs must step up in a social media crisis according to a new report zdnet
Crisp Thinking

Almost three in five (59%) of consumers want the brand responses to come from the CEO. They expect the public acknowledgment to come from the top. Almost half (47%) say that social media is the preferred channel for receiving a response from a brand and for sharing news about a crisis.

Consumers' expectations for an immediate response means brands must receive alerts of a crisis as soon as it happens. They want a proper response too.

An intelligent response is the difference between consumer loyalty and losing revenue.

Nine out of ten (90%) consumers say they are likely to shop with a brand that responds well to crises, while 66% are unlikely to continue shopping with a brand that responds poorly. That means two-thirds of brand revenue is on the line.

Over a quarter (28%) say failure to accept responsibility is the biggest mistake a brand can make following a crisis. Consumers want brands to accept responsibility and offer solutions.

On social media, negative opinions spread like wildfire. Over a third (37%) of consumers are likely to unfollow a brand on social media after it handles a crisis poorly, and 25% are likely to post something critical of the brand.

Brands should ensure that they have a good crisis monitoring system in place so that they can deliver the message in a timely way. A good crisis plan could make all the difference to the brand surviving or failing in the full gaze of the media.

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