Thirty-eight percent of companies are unprepared to deal with social media crisis according to a recent survey by the Ethical Corporation.

Another 34% feel so-so about their preparedness.


Mr. Miyagi might have social media insight for all those ninjas.  “Walk left side, safe. Walk right side, safe. Walk middle…sooner or later get squish like grape.”

All in all more than 70% of organizations, according to this survey, feel uneasy about their preparedness to respond to social media crisis.  Maybe we shouldn’t be surprised since some brands, a reported 16% to be exact, don’t even acknowledge fans – crisis or not.

Maybe brands don’t need to respond.  After all the Wall Street Journal reported PR fiascos are short-lived.

“The paper cited three recent examples: JetBlue, Bats Global Markets, and Goldman Sachs,” wrote Michael Sebastian, in an analysis on PR Daily.  “All three companies experienced PR crises last month, none of which significantly hurt the companies’ bottom lines. In fact, WSJ mentions Goldman’s ‘Teflon-like resistance to problems.’”

Teflon-like resistance?  I reject that notion. I believe good customer service is good marketing.

Maybe brands can slip by on Teflon for a while, but sooner or later it’s going to catch up.  More importantly, social media should be used to engage fans, build loyalty and drive growth, and we as marketers cannot do that by sitting idle while negative comments fester.

Ignoring them won’t make those comments go away. As the father of unmarketing, Scott Stratten says often in his presentations, the choice isn’t whether or not those comments happen – it’s whether or not we choose to engage them.

More importantly, Stratten points out, addressing comments – publically – is the perfect unmarketing time to shine.  For one, the whole world is watching and secondly, addressing the problem is a chance to actually improve a brand’s reputation.

A Hilton Hotel cook nearly tackled Stratten in an effort to apologize after a lousy breakfast buffet of cold sausage and watery eggs. The cook didn’t have a solution, but it was the simple act of acknowledgement that made a difference.

A sharp-eyed Tweeter for Delta Airlines, which is not stranger to social media crisis, spotted a complaint after a flight attendant shoved Stratten out of the way in the security line. A simply apology, less than 140 characters long, saved the day. What’s more interesting, if you read the story, is Delta’s Tweeters are clearly monitoring for common misspellings of their brand – which is easy to do on a smart phone – a likely medium for travelers on the move.

Stratten’s entire presentation is online.  It costs nothing but an hour’s time and it is well worth watching for ideas on using negative comments to find our time to shine.

Photo credit:  Marketing Charts