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Applebee’s Social Media Meltdown: Tips to avoid social PR disasters

Social media has changed the world as we know it. And with that the old standards for public relations have also changed. Technology has made this a customer centric world and the importance of hiring the right people to be part of your PR/Social Media/Marketing team cannot be stressed enough! It seems just when we think that all the lessons have been learned watching major social media disasters unfold we are proven wrong by none other than… Applebee’s.

Applebees Social Media

You have probably heard about the events leading up to Applebee’s social media meltdown last week but if you need to catch up you can read the whole saga as it has unfolded over several days here in the post: “Applebee’s Overnight Social Media Meltdown: A Photo Essay”.  And if you want to check out Applebee’s Facebook page and see the saga as customers continue to comment here.

Applebees Social Media Suicide

What does this nightmare mean for the everyday business and brand? If a giant like Applebee’s can’t get it right how can the rest of us expect to get it right?

Here 4 tips to help your company avoid a social media disaster:

1. Training is Essential: Make sure your marketing, PR, social media, sales team and all employees have proper training on both company social media policies and what to do if any type of customer “hot” buttons are pressed. There was a point early on when Applebee’s should have “stepped back” and reevaluated, instead they kept forging ahead making one mistake after another adding fuel to the fire. It begs to question who was making the decision to keep posting, deleting posts, and continue to make this issue grow bigger without a plan of action.  Which leads to my second point… 2. Hire Experienced People: It takes a well oiled team to manage an online community with multiple social media channels. Make sure you are vetting and hiring the best people to take on your social media management. Oftentimes inexperienced people are hired to manage the social media channels or the management is added to an inexperienced person’s job  because “posting on Facebook is simple right?”  This Applebee’s incident shows what can go wrong for a businesses of any size. Whether you manage social media internally or you outsource your social media make sure your team is well trained, stays on top of trends and that they have a crisis plan in place. Plan 3. Have a Crisis PR Plan in Place: This requires you to plan exactly how you would handle a pr disaster. For a small business something much smaller than this Applebee’s disaster could put you out of business so it’s important you have a plan in place ready to activate. If you are a business that manages all of your marketing and social media internally I advise that part of your crisis plan would be to have an outside social media agency contracted to jump in and advise when you are in crisis. Social Media Meltdown4. Know How to Handle Customer Responses: Going along with having a crisis plan in place and hiring well-trained professionals this is a point that needs to be drilled into everyone’s minds. Knowing exactly how to respond to costumer satisfaction and dissatisfaction alike is essential in social media community management. Have a person in place who knows the brand inside in out, who can capture the voice of the brand and respond with that voice is critical.  A team member who can get the message across but doesn’t allow their own emotions to get in the way is priceless. The fact of the matter is that it’s inevitable that at one point or another, you brand will have an unhappy customer or client. Hopefully you won’t have thousands of angry patrons breathing down your neck like Applebee’s, but having  a plan of action in any case is key. With social media, customers now have platforms more powerful than a newspaper review or write-up. In a matter of seconds folks can take to Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and blogs and spread their message to the masses. We hope that these tips we’ve shared can help you put out a social media fire before it even starts. Have questions surrounding social media management? Need help putting a crisis plan together? Contact us now. Photo Credit 1 Photo Credit 2 Photo Credit 3

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