If the social s#@t hit’s the fan, don’t be an ostrich!

Even ostriches don’t bury their heads in sand; it’s a myth that probably originates from the birds defensive behaviour of lying low and pressing their long necks to the ground in an effort to be less visible.

I’m no longer shocked by the volume of brands who are yet to embrace social. Bizarrely, there are still (and always will be) those who oppose social. Eventually, they will understand its tangible ability to influence consumer spend or drive lead generation into the B2B sales funnel. Sadly, they will realise the potency of social long after their rivals have engineered a profitable social proposition and stolen a healthy slice of their market-share cake.

What does shock me is the number of brands who are thriving on social – with abundant and engaged communities, generating measurable revenue, but who haven’t planned for the worst.

When asked, they reply: “Yes, we do have a crisis plan.”

Upon further investigation, we’re asked: “why would we need a crisis plan for social?”

Good question. This would be where a lot of agencies spout an extensive list of brands who have got it wrong and suffered a damaged brand and weakened consumer or client opinion. There is however, an equally impressive list of brands who have embraced the famed excrement-flinging fan. They’ve stood tall, weathered a storm and emerged in a healthy position. Because they’ve emerged well, we don’t hear about it.

Social can be a visceral platform, but so can your customer service telephone lines – just ask your team; I’m sure they can share a handsome number of examples.

Social, as we all know, is visible. Because of this, people think if they avoid social altogether then that’s problem solved. Nope. Mr or Miss Complainer will still be having a good old moan, you just won’t know about it or be able to influence the molehill that’s quickly resembling a mountain. Social is visible, so let your customers see how you’re addressing valid criticism.

Smart brands prepare for the worst, locking away crisis plans, in the hope they never see the light of day. They will recognise the critical importance of participating in the conversation when a crisis hits. A smart brand will have a robust plan to protect their brand image.

Don’t be an ostrich. Avoid the sandpit or potential carpet burns from ill-timed neck grounding. Social is not something to be afraid of. It’s to be embraced with sensible planning and controls.

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