Many crises are avoidable, should you have a system for crisis monitoring in place. The more proactive you are, the less likely you are to face one. However, that does not guarantee you’ll make it through the life of your business without an issue. No one is bulletproof. Even the most upright companies can find themselves under fire at times.
Social Media—Taking the Bad with the Good
In fact, while the age of social media has done wonders for business marketing, it has also increased the likelihood for companies to face crises. Current studies show an alarming trend—social media crises are on the rise. It seems to be a sort of catch 22. You don’t want to stay off of social media because it offers many benefits to your company. But you also don’t want to find yourself under fire in an online crisis, right?
Well, first of all, you’ve got to understand this—staying off of social media doesn’t preclude you from experiencing an online crisis. Your company can still become the target in a social media bashing whether you’re present or not. That said, wouldn’t you rather be there and have the opportunity to engage when necessary?
Of course, it isn’t your engagement that’s going to do the most good. Yes, you need to know when it’s time to respond to a crisis, and social media can be an avenue for that. However, it’s not your internal crisis managers who are going to truly reach the online masses in a time of crisis…it’s your brand advocates.
What is a Brand Advocate?
To explain what an advocate is, I’ll begin with what it’s not:
- A brand advocate is not someone who seeks monetary compensation in return for their efforts. True brand advocates aren’t those looking to recommend your product in exchange for a referral fee or prize. These gimmicks breed fair-weather friends. No, a true advocate is one who is overwhelming pleased with what you’re doing and wants the world to know it. They share you with everyone they know through their social media profiles because they truly want others to experience your brand. These are those customers you have connected with on an emotional level…those who are smitten and will never leave your side.
- A brand advocate is not someone who is technically marketing for you. As mentioned above, they don’t work for you. They aren’t trying to grow your bottom line. And the great thing about it is that everyone else knows this too. So the “marketing” they end up doing for you is more trustworthy than any of your campaigns ever will be.
- A brand advocate is not a fly by night customer. You need to make sure you focus on relationship building. Those who are going to recommend you online through virtual word of mouth aren’t typically those who crossed paths with you once, never to do so again. Yes, you may get an occasional referral from a fly by night customer, but a true advocate is one who will be there through the thick and thin, assuming you continue to treat them well.
The Advocate’s Role in a Time of Crisis
So what happens when a crisis hits? Well, nowadays you can assume that it’s going to blow up online. Sites like Facebook and Twitter are great places for your worst critics to spread their complaints. And if you’re really unlucky, sites like Reddit will pick up on what’s going on and the whole situation will go viral (yeah, that’s not always a good word in the marketing sense).
However, if you’ve done your job creating brand advocates, then they will do a lot of the firefighting for you. See, your crisis management department isn’t going to be able to put out the social media fire on their own. But your true advocates, without being asked mind you, will come to your defense. They just do—because you have made an impact on their life.
That said, here’s the question you need to consider. What are you doing to create brand advocates?
This article is written by Mickie Kennedy, founder of eReleases (http://www.ereleases.com), the online leader in affordable press release distribution. Download your free copy of 7 Cheap PR Tactics for Success in Any Economy here: http://www.ereleases.com/7cheaptactics.html