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In case of emergency: Cruise lines and crisis communication on Twitter, Part II

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Costa Concordia Instagram

People fascinated by a disaster will create their own news accounts, that may or may not contain misinformation. This is happening on networks outside of Twitter as well, like this example on Instagram.

We’ve previously discussed how airlines should handle crisis communication in case of an emergency, and recently we shared the first part of the plan for cruise lines to do the same. This is the second part, which picks up after looking at what cruise lines should look for on Twitter, to what they should measure during and after a crisis, plus what to look for on platforms outside of Twitter.

What to measure on Twitter in times of crisis, and after

Now that you know what to look for, you need to have a plan in place for how to measure it. What, exactly, should you be measuring on Twitter as a crisis unfolds?

Before; or what you should have set up right now

Ideally you will already have Trackers set up to capture what we mentioned previously- tweets directly to your official handle, mentions of your brand in any variety of spelling imaginable, any well-known nicknames your brand has (official or not), and the ports you operate from. If you’re not already doing that, now is the time to implement Trackers or take frequent snapshots (using something like our aptly named snapshot reports) around those terms once a situation arises and begins to unfold.

If your resources have grown since you first made your plan, consider monitoring your major competitors and major keywords related to your industry as well.

During a crisis

Often during a crisis situation, a hashtag will be born organically. If you’re being proactive about communicating via Twitter, however, don’t hesitate to create one of your own and immediately set up a Tracker to measure it, or take continual snapshots of the situation. If another hashtag emerges organically, use that one in your messaging as well and be sure you’re tracking both.

After a crisis

If everything flies by too quickly and you’re a small enough team not to have time to set up Trackers or take frequent enough snapshots of the situation, a historical option to capture the entire incident is available. This can also be used to fill in any noticeable gaps in your data once you’ve begun to look through everything you’ve gathered.

In the aftermath of the event, you might also want to track a specific news story (using specific key words from the title if it’s unique enough not to return a lot of noise, or you can track via a specific URL) that went around if it directly involved comments from your brand, or got a lot of circulation with commentary from people passing it around. This will give you a much more accurate read on the sentiment around your crisis messaging, and let you see any missed opportunities, as well as highlight every win.

Go the extra mile

Once you have all of this data and you can clearly see how the situation unfolded and evaluate the strength of your response, take it a step further: What can you plan better next time, with this experience? What did you and your team do really well, that you should be sure to praise and also pass on as protocol to new team members? This knowledge can be distilled and turned into training and on-boarding materials for any new communications employees in the future.

If you’re not a cruise line (or an airline) a lot of these tactics still apply to you; if you’re a hotel, for example, you can offer to put up stranded travelers or victims of a natural disaster or other tragedy. Car rental companies and car sharing services can work out deals to get stranded people home if they don’t have far to go. For a less serious crisis, tour companies can even offer to keep stranded passengers entertained with local sites while they’re waiting for delayed travel to get sorted out.

Any of these companies can work out deals with each other ahead of a crisis to come in and support each other if and when it makes sense to.

Platforms other than Twitter

While Twitter is the best platform to use during a crisis because of the speed at which you’re able to share information and connect with concerned parties as well as news outlets, you need to be sure you have messaging in place on all of the other platforms you also have a presence on in the case of an emergency. For Facebook, be sure to make periodic, informative updates and answer as many questions as you can from concerned parties that may not be on Twitter. Do as much as you can with the resources that you have; don’t be afraid to make a post and then direct everyone to Twitter or your website for more information if those are the two places you plan to concentrate updates.

Tumblr will support text updates and it’s also a place where you can reblog information from the news outlets also on Tumblr, but it’s much more difficult to answer questions if they come in the form of reblogs. Do answer any questions directed to your inbox, publishing those that may help answer the similar questions of others.

Photo-based platforms like Snapchat and Instagram are more difficult to navigate; it’s hard to think of a tactful snap for announcing information around an emergency situation, but if that’s the only line of communication open to you and you’re in touch with your customers there, don’t hesitate to do what you can. If you do feel it’s appropriate to post a screenshot with emergency update protocols on your Instagram account directing followers to your website or Twitter for ongoing information, do so. Many of these details will depend on what’s right for your brand, the nature of the crisis, and the resources available as it unfolds.

The takeaway

The bottom line is to listen and step in where you’re needed, even if you’re not expected to.

Written by Sarah

August 12th, 2014 at 10:12 am

The Week in Social Analytics #114

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It’s Friday, so that means it’s time for This Week in Social Analytics and our favorite posts of the past week in the world of measurement, analytics, and social media. See a great piece we missed? Link to it in the comments, or tell us about it on Twitter or Facebook.

5 Measurement Pitfalls to Avoid [from Mashable; written by Eliza Berman]

“. . . in the quest to back up every move with cold, hard data, it can be easy to mistake any old numbers for useful numbers. Not all data is created equal, and the best way to ensure you’ll be collecting the right data is to develop the right set of performance metrics.”

How To Corrupt The Social Data You’re Gathering (And Kill Your Focus Group In The Process) [from Marketing Land; written by Kevin Ryan]

“There is a big difference between listening to your best customers and lurking among them to gather information; in the former, you have initiated a meaningful dialogue, while the latter will leave your customers feeling like lab rats.”

How To Set Marketing Goals You Can Actually Achieve: Advice From The Experts [from KISSMetrics; written by Chloe Mason Gray]

A few of the key takeaways:

  • Take time to truly understand your current position in order to set achievable marketing goals.
  • Choose 1-2 core goals that impact the bottom line and 3-5 supporting goals. Anything more than that will distract you from what’s most important.
  • Alternatively, try focusing completely on just one goal.
  • Pick goals that you genuinely care about achieving (be authentic).
  • Don’t just focus on the finish line; enjoy the process of achieving your goal.
  • Set the minimum bar at delivering on at least 70% of the planned improvements each quarter.
  • Approach each new marketing goal with as much data and information as possible.
  • Make sure your short-term goals always support your long-term prospects.

How the World Sees You Should Govern Your Social Media Style [from Convince and Convert; written by Jay Baer]

“…if you can understand how people see you at your best, then you can simply focus on those areas where you’re most primed to succeed and avoid the areas that are going to be like quicksand.”

How to Write a Crisis Communications Plan [from Spin Sucks; written by Gini Dietrich]

“But the real issue isn’t that they did bad things—we’re all human and we all make mistakes—it’s that they were handled by people who didn’t have any crisis communications experience.”

Pair with our piece on crisis communications for airlines, as well as part I of our crisis communications for cruise lines (look for part II next week.)

The Five Essential Elements of a Great Company Story [from Marketing Profs; written by Sandra Stewart]

Not every company is the wunderkind of tech, but every company does have a story to tell.

How Digital Media Has Changed the Art of Storytelling | Infographic [from Social Times; written by Kimberlee Morrison]

“From ‘blog’ being named the 2004 Merriam-Webster word of the year, to the rise of content curation and visual media — the art of storytelling is a craft that remains at the heart of digital media.”

Who Are You? How to Develop a Brand Identity for Instagram [from Likeable Media; written by Roly Gonzalez]

You have to be authentic to who your brand and develop a brand identity on Instagram that accomplishes the following:

  • Stays true to your overall brand identity
  • Conveys a straight forward persona to your audience
  • Utilizes the tone, feel, and language of the platform

What Types of Brand Videos Do Consumers Want to Watch? [from Marketing Charts; written by staff]

“According to the Levels Beyond survey, consumers are most interested in how-to, instructional or tutorial videos (67%), followed by:

  • comedy or spoof videos (42%);
  • product/informational videos (34%);
  • micro-documentaries, telling the story of a person or event (33%); and
  • animations/infographic videos (30%).”

Written by Sarah

August 8th, 2014 at 8:54 am

In case of emergency: Cruise lines and crisis communication on Twitter, Part I

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Costa Concordia News

An unofficial Twitter account for Costa Concordia news that sprung up in the wake of the ship’s running aground. If you don’t come forward in these spaces, someone else will do it for you.

The Costa Concordia is back in the news this summer, being towed away for salvage after its disastrous running aground two years ago. We’ve written about airlines and how they should use Twitter for crisis communications, and thought we’d  make that same approach more specific for other areas of the travel industry.

This first part will cover what cruise lines should be monitoring for before a crisis- meaning the plan that you have in place- and in the early stages of a crisis breaking out.

What cruise lines should look for on Twitter

Social media is both a blessing and a curse in a time of crisis. While companies are able to rapidly disseminate information, share updates, and directly interact with the public in real time, misinformation can also spread very quickly on platforms like Twitter.

For something as high stakes as trans-oceanic travel, it’s important for cruise lines to know what to listen for and measure, particularly during the stressful summer holiday travel season. We have some advice for creating just such a plan, or reassessing it if you already have one.

What to look for on Twitter during a crisis

First, you need to set up a monitoring plan for Twitter. Exactly what you’re looking for will depend on the nature of the crisis you’re dealing with and your communication goals around each type of crisis.

In case of common crisis

For ship departure delays and stranded, angry customers who might have missed a boat, for example, you’ll definitely want to focus on catching every mention of your brand on Twitter and doing everything you possibly can to make affected customers feel listened to and understood. If possible, give your customer service representatives on Twitter the power to offer reconciliations: everything from drink packages, to discounts on future cruises, full or partial refunds; even free accommodations on a future departure if the situation is bad enough.

This is vital for turning an angry person who swears they will never cruise with you again- whether the circumstances of the situation were under your control or not- and someone who will brag about your customer service on the same forum they just used to share their unhappiness, while remaining a customer.

In case of not-so-common crisis

If the situation is more serious- like the Costa Concordia running aground off the coast of Italy, or a natural disaster like a hurricane- you don’t have to bother to look for misinformation; it will already be out there. Use Twitter as a way to let everyone know you’re aware of the situation, that the safety of your employees and passengers is your first priority, and to make any updates you can on the situation, waiting as long as possible to confirm new information before you send it out while still making any corrections as necessary.

In both cases- and the rest of the time, as a general rule of thumb- you should be monitoring not only direct replies to your brand’s handle on Twitter, but also mentions of your company name in any variety of spelling imaginable: any well-known nicknames your brand has (official or not), and the ports your operate from. Depending on your resources, you might want to include the names of prominent employees, such as founders, board members, and c-level executives. Something like our TweetReach Pro Trackers will allow you to do this. (We’ll talk more about what to measure in part II.)

Go the extra mile

Monitoring mentions of the ports you operate from will be vital should a tragic incident occur and you need to reroute your ship or make accommodations for passengers waiting to board, and the rest of the time it will give you an advantage in listening to and addressing problems you might not have caught otherwise. Is one of your passengers stuck with a delayed flight home and without a hotel room? If you have the connections to help them, you will change everything about how they end up perceiving their trip.

Monitor your competitors too: Is a passenger stranded by a competitor somewhere you have a ship in port, or are approaching, and you have room onboard? You’ve just filled an empty cabin and probably won a new loyal customer.

If you go the extra mile and make someone’s day, you’ve reversed their story of a bad trip gone awry and will more likely be the first brand on their mind the next time they travel.

What next?

Look for part II, which covers more about what to measure during and after a crisisplus what to look for on platforms outside of Twitter.

Written by Sarah

August 5th, 2014 at 10:00 am

The Week in Social Analytics #87

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It’s Friday, so that means it’s time for This Week in Social Analytics and our favorite posts of the past week in the world of measurement, analytics, and social media. See a great piece we missed? Link to it in the comments, or tell us about it on Twitter or Facebook.

Stop Chasing Shiny Objects, Invest in the ‘Classics’ [from Mack Collier]

“No matter how many shiny tools you master, none of that will help you if you don’t understand your customers.”

And:

“There are two areas you need to focus on in 2014:

1 – Understanding how your customers are using these tools

2 – Understanding how customer behavior is changing because of emerging tools and technology”

Predicting The Social Future Of eCommerce For Small Business [from Viral Blog]

“It won’t be long before we’re buying certain products almost exclusively online, even if we’ve demoed them in person.”

Trust: Do We Believe Your Social Media & Content? [from Heidi Cohen]

On average, two-thirds of customers need to hear a company’s message 3 to 5 times before they believe it based on Edelman’s 2013 Trust Barometer. This ratio has remained relatively constant for the past few years.”

Emphasis orignal.

5 Tips for Creating Social Content That Stands Out [from Edelman; written by Alison Fleming]

“Find the white space that your community fills. Then, find a way to use social content to add value to your community members’ lives. Sure, you’re selling widgets too, but make content so great that people barely notice the product placement. Selling eReaders? Make an online book club. Hawking cameras? Make an online photography gallery. Social content 3.0 has a rich, deep narrative that can only be achieved through insights. Insights -> content -> engagement -> insights. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.”

6 Tips for Managing a B2B Crisis Using Social Media [from Social Media B2B; written by Allison Rice]

“But even though sites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn may make managing a crisis trickier, they can also help you communicate with your customers, demonstrate your commitment to them and bolster your reputation. In fact, a well-managed crisis can not only help you retain customers, but it can lead to new customers and additional deals.”

Empowering Employees with Social Media Improves Customer Relationships and Grows Revenue [from Social Media Today; written by Brian Solis]

“Organizations can no longer rely on inbound and outbound sales reps, people willing to jump through hoops and obstacles via call centers, or traditional marketing to boost awareness and demand. Customers demand engagement, in real time, and that takes human beings, training, and support.”

Here Is Your Future: 9 Experts Provide 29 Public Relations and Social Media Measurement Predictions for 2014 [from The Measurement Standard; edited by Bill Paarlberg]

“Wait a minute. How about last year’s predictions: How did those work out? As a matter of fact, many, and perhaps most, of last year’s 27 predictions came to pass. You’ll have to judge for yourself, however, which ones were actually Nostradamus-level prescient, as many were either loosely phrased (‘more Facebook commerce’) or very general (‘increasing interest in big data,’ ‘increasing mergers and acquisitions’).”

1 in 5 Social Network Users Likely to Make A Purchase Directly On A Social Network This Year [from Marketing Charts]

“Among Gen Y respondents (born 1980 through 1995), slightly more than one-quarter claimed to be either very likely (13%) or likely (14%) to make a purchase on a social network this year. That figure was matched by Gen X respondents (born 1962 through 1982), of whom 26% are likely to make a purchase.”

Men are also more likely than women to make a purchase directly on a social network (23% vs 14%).

4 Ways Twitter is Socializing TV [from Jeff Bullas]

“So what can TV teach us about how your business can use Twitter?

  • Companies and brands can use Twitter to provide valuable feedback from their customers and prospects
  • Twitter can be used to organise conversations at expos, conferences and presentations
  • It can assist in humanizing the brand that reveals the human side of the organisation
  • Twitter can include calls to action that ask people to buy, inquire or make booking”

Yahoo’s Tumblr-Based Tech And Food Sites Have Seen 10M Uniques Since Jan. 7 Launch [from TechCrunch; written by Darrell Etherington]

“Tumblr’s user base has grown 30 percent since March last year, Mayer says, and usage on mobile is faring even better, with over 50 percent growth between the same time and today.”

Written by Sarah

January 31st, 2014 at 9:11 am

In case of emergency: Airlines and crisis communication on Twitter

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What airlines should look for on Twitter and what to measure, before, during, and after a crisis

Social media is both a blessing and a curse in a time of crisis. While companies are able to rapidly disseminate information, share updates, and directly interact with the public in real time, misinformation can also spread like crazy on platforms like Twitter.

For something as high stakes as air travel, it’s important for airlines and travel companies to have a plan in place should a crisis arise, particularly during the stressful holiday travel season. We have some advice for creating just such a plan, or reassessing it if you already have one.

Image courtesy NYPL Digital Galleries

What to look for on Twitter during a crisis

First, you need to set up a monitoring plan for Twitter. Exactly what you’re looking for will depend on the nature of the crisis you’re dealing with and your communication goals around each type of crisis.

In case of common crisis

For flight delays and stranded, angry customers, for example, you’ll definitely want to focus on catching every mention of your brand on Twitter and doing everything you possibly can to make affected customers feel listened to and understood. If possible, give your customer service representatives on Twitter the power to offer reconciliations: everything from drink tickets, to discounts on future flights, full or partial refunds; even free tickets for a future flight if the situation is bad enough.

This is vital for turning an angry person who swears they will never fly with you again- whether the circumstances of the situation were under your control or not- and someone who will brag about your customer service on the same forum they just used to share their unhappiness, while remaining a customer.

In case of not-so-common crisis

If the situation is more serious- like the recent shooting that happened at Los Angeles International Airport, or a natural disaster like an earthquake- you don’t have to bother to look for misinformation; it will already be out there. Use Twitter as a way to let everyone know you’re aware of the situation, the safety of your employees and passengers, and any updates you can make on the situation, waiting as long as possible to confirm new information before you send it out while still making any corrections as necessary.

In both cases- and the rest of the time, as a general rule of thumb- you should be monitoring not only direct replies to your brand’s handle on Twitter, but also mentions of your company name in any variety of spelling imaginable, any well-known nicknames your brand has (official or not), and the airports you operate from. Depending on your resources, you might want to include the names of prominent employees, such as founders, board members and c-level executives. Something like our TweetReach Pro Trackers will allow you to do this. (We’ll talk more about what to measure in the next section.)

Go the extra mile

Monitoring mentions of the airports you operate from will be vital should a tragic incident such as the LAX shooting occur again, and the rest of the time it will give you an advantage in listening to and addressing problems you might not have caught otherwise. Is a passenger stranded, and you have room on a flight? Even if they weren’t booked on your airline, you’ve probably just won a new loyal customer. If you make someone’s day, you’ve reversed their story of a bad trip gone awry and be more likely to be the first brand on their mind the next time they travel.

What to measure on Twitter in times of crisis, and after

Now that you know what to look for, you need to have a plan in place for how to measure it. What, exactly, should you be measuring on Twitter as a crisis unfolds?

Before; or what you should have set up right now

Ideally you will already have Trackers set up to capture what we mentioned above- tweets directly to your official handle, mentions of your brand in any variety of spelling imaginable, any well-known nicknames your brand has (official or not), and the airports you operate from. If you’re not already doing that, now is the time to implement Trackers or take frequent snapshots (using something like our aptly named snapshot reports) around those terms once a situation arises and begins to unfold.

During a crisis

Often during a crisis situation, a hashtag will be born organically. If you’re being proactive about communicating via Twitter, however, don’t hesitate to create one of your own and immediately set up a Tracker to measure it, or take continual snapshots of the situation. If another hashtag emerges organically, use that one in your messaging as well and be sure you’re tracking both.

After a crisis

If everything flies by too quickly and you’re a small enough team not to have time to set up Trackers or take frequent enough snapshots of the situation, a historical option to capture the entire incident is available. This can also be used to fill in any noticeable gaps in your data once you’ve begun to look through everything you’ve gathered.

In the aftermath of the event, you might also want to track a specific news story (using specific key words from the title if it’s unique enough not to return a lot of noise, or you can track via a specific URL) that went around if it directly involved comments from your brand, or got a lot of circulation with commentary from people passing it around. This will give you a much more accurate read on the sentiment around your crisis messaging, and let you see any missed opportunities as well as highlight every win.

Go the extra mile

Once you have all of this data and you can clearly see how the situation unfolded and evaluate the strength of your response, take it a step further: What can you plan better next time, with this experience? What did you and your team do really well, that you should be sure to praise and also pass on as protocol to new team members? This knowledge can be distilled and turned into training and on-boarding materials for any new communications employees in the future.

If you’re not an airline a lot of these tactics still apply to you; if you’re a hotel, for example, you can offer to put up stranded travelers or victims of a natural disaster or other tragedy. Car rental companies and car sharing services can work out deals to get stranded people home if they don’t have far to go. Tour companies can even offer to keep stranded passengers entertained with local sites while they’re waiting for delayed travel to get sorted out.

The takeaway

The bottom line is to listen and step in where you’re needed, even if you’re not expected to.

Written by Sarah

November 19th, 2013 at 9:18 am