Tracey Hope-Ross, VP of Research at Mom Central Consulting, recently interviewed Sarah Hofstetter on MCC’s revolution + research = R2 blog. In the five question interview, Sarah (SVP of Emerging Media & Client Strategy here at 360i) shares how brands can approach opportunities – and crises – in social media. Here’s an excerpt:
MCC: How should a company best prepare to respond to a Social Media crisis?
SH: Starting a listening program TODAY and develop your escalation program NOW. There isn’t an elementary school around that doesn’t have a series of fire drill preps where they train children about what they should do in the event of an emergency. Why shouldn’t you have that same protection for your brand?
Social media invites participation from anyone – employees, customers, investors – and therefore defies organizational boundaries by those departments it impacts – marketing, PR, customer care, HR and more. By actively listening to the conversations people are having about your brand, you can have a solid idea of what topics, products, features are interesting or unfavorable to your audiences, which can help inform marketing and creative strategies.
And for those who might speak negatively, you can also size that audience to gauge if that person has the potential to reach a much broader audience and kickstart a very negative reputation for you. Once you have an identification and escalation procedure in place, you can then swiftly address the situation with the right team.
MCC: How would you explain the value of Social Media to a brand/company just testing the waters?
SH: The Internet is a real-time focus group – providing you with a tremendous amount of access to how people speak about your brand, your competitors’ brands, and your industry.
And this is not just for early adopters anymore – YouTube has more US viewers than CNN, MSNBC and Fox News combined. Facebook has more US registered users than The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and TIME magazine combined. These are large, scalable platforms where people are openly talking about you.
As a brand, you have two choices: you can cover your ears and pretend it’s not happening, or listen and analyze those consumers’ active discussions to then inform whether or not you participate. An online listening program can be a great way to get a lay of the land, understand the competitive landscape, and then determine if and how you may want to participate.
You can read the entire interview over at the MCC blog.