We're in Iowa so we feel like everyone already knows about this, but if you don't know, it's time to get learnt. Read the Carson King Timeline of Events.
Carson King's Venmo request for Busch Light turned fundraiser for a children's hospital has been a rollercoaster of a story since it started Sept. 14th, 2019. The wave of social activity surrounding the story has lead to real-world consequences for the brands and people involved.
Regardless of who you think is in the wrong or how these major players responded to the situation. This is what you really need to have as a takeaway from this situation. When shit hitteth the fan, your business needs to be proactive on the NEW social battleground.
What Is The New Social Battleground?
Listen, the Carson King case got crazy! Here's the battle you didn't even see coming. We've seen people tank page reviews, share and spread negative posts, troll the comments of a page, and while that happened to the Register, they also dealt with a new social battleground.
Fans started suggesting absolutely insane edits to pages. Yeah... the new battleground. Not only are they trolling the page but they're literally trying to change your business information online. It's like a picket line of protestors outside of your building but everyone in the world can see it. 👇
How Is This Possible?
Platforms wanted to give communities the ability to keep places and brands' pages up to date over time. By allowing users to suggest information about a business, the platforms accumulate more comprehensive data in real time.
When many users suggest different edits, Facebook tries to crowdsource the correct answer, actively asking for suggested edits from mobile users. The good news is that when enough suggestions have been collected, platforms (specifically Facebook), sends a notification to the page to accept the change or delete. They'll also send an email to all page admins. If you're like us, you get hundreds of notifications and emails from Facebook with news, exciting updates, all comments, just a whole lot of stuff. It's really easy for this email and notification to get lost, lord help you if you manage more than one page. And it's a CRITICAL mistake if you miss it. If an admin ignores the notification the change automatically goes into effect after 14 days. There's no second warning. Make sure that you click "reject the change." Add this to the list of places you need to be checking in case of an emergency.
What Do I Do In A Social Media Crisis?
Listen carefully. The worst thing you can do in the middle of a crisis is to shut down and stop listening. Here are the steps you need to take in a social media crisis.
1. Don't 👏 panic. 👏
Okay, so there's a chance you didn't see this coming. But, when a crisis happens, you can not make any rash decisions. You need to remain calm, gather your team, and make a plan.
2. Whatever you do. Do not, we repeat, DO NOT delete the things.
This seems to be everyone's first reaction to negativity on social. Contain. Contain. Contain. Mmm... you can not tame the interwebs. (we've tried). Don't delete posts, comments, reviews, and especially not your Facebook Page. When a negative conversation is happening surrounding your brand, you need to be a part of the narrative, don't let let the angry mob tell your story, even if you did fuck up. Which leads us to number three.
3. Listen, Linda, Listen.
Put your listening ears on. Listen to your audience and listen to your team. Don't assume you know what the problem is, you may dig yourself into a hole that wasn't there before. Make sure that your team really looks at the feedback online so you know what points you need to be clear on. Keep an open mind, your initial reaction is going to be to go into defense mode. There's a chance that you may actually be in the wrong and you need to think about what real human action you need to take. A lot of times, your users are telling you exactly what they want from you, and it might even just be an apology. So don't make it worse for your business.
4. Apologize for what actually happened.
Take this opportunity to hold your business accountable. Say you're sorry, explain in detail how you're going to fix it. It's okay to be wrong... just like your mom said. Arguing with the court of public opinion WWE style is not going to fix your problem. There's a chance you honestly believe your business did absolutely nothing wrong in this situation. To this we'd say, bring in a third party with an unbiased fresh pair of eyes. They may be seeing something that you're not. There are a lot of people who will happily help you through this storm, you will probably have to pay them.
5. Respond like a human.
Stop giving canned responses over and over. Before you respond, you need to quickly get your team involved, no matter what time of the day this happens. People who need to be at the table are decision-makers, marketing including all social team, public relations, crisis management squad, lawyers, and someone directly in touch with customers.
Your response should focus on the apology and how you're going to fix it. Once you issue an official statement, you don't get to stop responding to users. That's the digital equivalent to putting up a glass wall between your customer service desk and your customers, with a typed statement taped to it. Customers can sense when they're being ignored. Give your team the tools and freedom to respond as humans. Ask them to picture every online interaction as if they're knocking on the door and delivering their response in person. For real. You need to be THAT human. It is possible to be consistent to your brand message without being canned. That's the goal. Stick to the plan, this isn't going to go away over night.
The internet is FOREVER, nothing is safe, and your response will be documented in digital history. Regardless of who you feel is in the right, and who is in the wrong, and how things should have happened, there's a wrong way and a better way to handle a social media crisis. But the Register. Oh the Register. They have felt the full brunt of social justice warrior outrage. They lost thousands of online followers, someone started a petition for them to apologize and it has over 100,000 signatures (see, they tell you what they want), loyal readers cancelled their subscriptions and users loudly disparaged the company online. Even the RAGBRAI team decided to completely cut ties and start their own ride called Iowa's Ride.
If you're still with us and have not broken out in hives for the fear of ever getting drawn into the social BATTLEGROUND, our best advice to you is to check your personal page, check your business page and put a real crisis plan of action together BEFORE shit hitteth the fan.