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Friday, March 11, 2011

What To Do When a Tweet Goes Rogue: Two Real-Life Examples

When it comes to communicating professionally using social media, everyone claims to be an expert. But the truth is, we’re all just learning as we go along. It’s always nice to learn the best way to handle a specific social media boo-boo from others who have gone before you. Today’s lesson in social media is brought to us by Chrysler and the American Red Cross. What do you do when a personal tweet including questionable language accidentally gets published to a branded moniker?

Example # 1 – American Red Cross

A few weeks ago, a Red Cross employee mistakenly sent a personal alcohol-related tweet using the @RedCross account instead of her own. Since I know you’re curious, the original tweet stated: “Ryan found two more 4 bottle packs of Dogfish Head’s Midas touch beer . . . when we drink we do it right #gettngslizzerd.” I’m sure Dogfish Head Brewery and Nicki Minaj were excited about the attention, but the Red Cross certainly wasn’t.

The message was deleted and replaced with a new one that said, “We’ve deleted the rogue tweet but rest assured the Red Cross is sober and we’ve confiscated the keys.” The Red Cross employee who posted the initial tweet later used her personal account to explain the mistake resulted from a misuse of HootSuite. The Red Cross handled the situation quickly and with a sense of humor. The incident got some attention, but it actually reflected pretty positively on the Red Cross. I’m sure the employee was reprimanded, but the Red Cross said she won’t be fired over the incident.

As a side note, this offers up another good example of taking advantage of social media opportunities. Dogfish Head Brewery is encouraging fans to donate to the Red Cross and use the hashtag #gettngslizzerd when they do. No word if Nicki Minaj is doing anything similar.

Example # 2 – Chrysler

Just this week another employee sent out an accidental tweet. This time a tweet from a corporate Chrysler account criticized Detroit motorists’ driving skills and included a curse word. Chrysler initially responded with a tweet stating the account had been “comprised” and then followed up with a blog post apologizing for the incident and stating the employee responsible for the errant tweet at the media strategy firm that handles the Twitter account had been fired. Yesterday, Chrysler split with the social media company entirely. They have received a number of comments criticizing them for what is being seen as an overreaction.

So, what can we learn from these two examples?

1. Be very careful if you’re managing personal and professional social media accounts at the same time.

2. Own up to your mistakes honestly. Even though Chrysler didn’t know where the tweet came from, rather than saying the account was “compromised,” they could have simply said, “we don’t know where that came from, but we’re looking into it.” Reflection on crisis communications proves that being coy and dishonest never works out better than sharing as much information as you can, even if it’s not a lot.

3. If people think you’re overreacting, it can really blow a small mistake into a full-blown controversy. Granted, it can be challenging to juggle wanting people to see that you’re taking the situation seriously and still use a little bit of humor to address the issue and move on.

As always, think about the potential ramifications of how you go about handling a crisis, and hopefully these two examples will get everyone thinking about how their brand would handle a “rogue” tweet.

~ Nicole

Friday, March 4, 2011

Tips on How to Conduct a Focus Group

We recently conducted two focus groups in Northern and Southern California to find out how people are looking for information about long-term care. The participants provided a wealth of information with their honest dialogue. But this wouldn’t have happened without the right tone and a good moderator. I thought I would share some quick tips on how to conduct a focus group.

Define Expectations.  As the moderator, this is where you establish the rules. You must inform the participants about the purpose of the focus group, their expected time of participation, what you as the moderator will be discussing and the ground rules, such as cell phones off, talking one at a time and informing them that they are being recorded.  Make sure you get permission from the participants. You can get this verbally but most prefer to have them sign off on a consent form.

Know Your Script. This seems obvious, but it is very important to come in with a plan of action and know what questions to ask, taking into consideration how long participants will have to answer them.  Repeat the questions by restating them, if necessary. Pause and allow the dialogue to flow freely. Ask who, what, where and how. Dig deeper and move the conversation along. Develop a moderator’s guide (or script) to follow, and if there are more things to cover, create a separate questionnaire for participants to fill out before the interview. Rehearse for time consideration and test any presentation such as PowerPoint or Internet connection on location.

Watch for Group Dynamics.  You must encourage participation from everyone. Ask questions directly to those who are not speaking up while looking out for dominating opinions. You need to set the tone for conflicting opinions and create some balance.
Method of Capturing Information.  The reason why you’re conducting a focus group is to find out if a product, service or information is valuable to your audience. It is very important to capture the information you’re collecting. The best way to do so is to record (or tape) the session as well as a have another individual take notes.
The information you have gathered can now be compiled into a report for your organization or your client.
Good luck!