In Crisis, Force = Mass x Acceleration

Here’s a scenario for you:

Tomorrow morning when you wake up, there are a dozen voicemails on your cellphone and a few dozen emails. You check both regularly, so it’s not that you let them pile up. Something is wrong.

It almost doesn’t matter what started it; you can insert whatever natural or human disaster, a product recall, a service or legal issue. What does matter is that your company’s Facebook page is now deluged with angry posts, or the topic is trending on Twitter, or your logo has been wittily and pointedly rearranged. Or there’s a YouTube video with your name on it, and a few million views since the weekend.

Are you prepared? Who do you call? Who will be making the decisions?  What do you do? And has it peaked?  Or will it get worse?

There’s a growing club of companies–Nestle, Motrin, United, Jet Blue, Dominos, to name a few–who have crossed this particular rubicon and have come out the other side. But there are others, and you need look no further than your favorite feed–who are just beginning to understand what happens when a crisis goes social and viral and [expressed in tweets, posts, comments, page views–you name the metric] begins to accelerate, adding momentum almost exponentially.

Over the next several months I will be looking at these crises to identify commonalities, differences and emerging best practices. My colleague Jeremiah has already set out some basics on how to prepare for crisis; I’ll be focusing on what companies are learning from them, and how that has affected their planning for next time.

Because–you can bet on it–there will be a next time. Maybe not on the same scale, maybe not the same issue even, but fast, public and with its own particular momentum.

I’d love it if you’d share your stories and what you’ve learned in the comments, or email me at susan [at] altimetergroup.

About susanetlinger

Industry Analyst at Altimeter Group
This entry was posted in Crisis, Social media, Social media measurement. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to In Crisis, Force = Mass x Acceleration

  1. If I woke up to a PR crisis, the first thing I’d ask myself is what are the things I can do right now to show that I care, I’m getting engaged in the problem and that I’m listening carefully to the message being delivered.

    This can be a blog post, a landing page, FAQ’s and resources, Twitter/Facebook status update (and updates throughout the crisis), video message from company leadership. The tone of it all should focus on 3 things: being transparent, being realistic and being human.

    I am so excited about this series and really look forward to following real world examples.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s