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Navigate Brand Crisis with Social Listening
It always happens when you least expect it – a brand reputation crisis. It could be a negative customer service interaction, an influencer or spokesperson gone wrong or a poorly timed commercial.

Whatever the cause, Netbase reports that 28 percent of crises spread internationally within just one hour. Having a strong crisis management strategy is critical to protecting brand health, and social listening can help you see the true impact of a crisis and quickly regain control.

What is Social Listening?

Social media monitoring looks at public, digital conversation on a predetermined topic, such as your brand name, to provide key insights that can inform the development of meaningful strategies and concepts. Beyond crisis management, social listening is used to:

  • monitor brand health
  • uncover and gain insight into audiences
  • measure campaign performance or customer engagement
  • understand the impact of influencers
  • develop opportunity framing

The Role of Social Listening in a Crisis

If your brand is partnering with an influencer or celebrity and that person gets into trouble for any reason, social listening can help determine if the impact will be felt by your brand. Similarly, social listening can help you get ahead of the game to determine if a brand, celebrity or influencer is the right fit for you and if they pose a potential future threat to your brand health.

For example, when working with a popular home improvement duo, a client wanted to determine if Jonathan Scott’s divorce would be a cause for concern. Using social listening, the Empower team determined that not only was conversation on the divorce miniscule, but the conversation that was surrounding it was positive and focused on how honest Scott was with fans. Even the celebrity duos’ missteps and failures were met with empathy and loyalty, which made them a solid partner for the brand.

Understanding Crisis Severity

Social listening shows the volume and virality of crisis conversations related to your brand’s situation to dictate if a response is needed, and, if necessary, who should deliver the response. For example, one client had an established partnership with a prominent morning show whose co-host was accused of sexual harassment. The Empower team quickly assessed consumer sentiment and volume trends to determine that the brand placement on the show would not be impacted by the potential scandal and there was no need to create a response plan.

Showcasing Conversational Themes About Your Brand

Social listening lets you know what consumers are talking about in real time. It will tell you the issues that are resonating, what emerging themes exist, who is fueling the most mentions and the passion/intensity of those mentions. These tools let you segment conversations by promoters and detractors to learn about their characteristics such as profession, interest, geography and influence level of those involved to help better formulate a strategic response.

For example, a client was experiencing negative conversation around a new product and wanted to understand how widespread and deep the negativity was spreading. The Empower team was able to determine that the total number of comments were few, the conversation sentiment was mostly neutral and that those who were actively talking negatively did not have much influence in the social space after all.

Knowing When to Respond, What to Say

Beyond understanding if the issue is widespread enough to warrant a response or action, knowing how customers are talking about the crisis and understanding the emotions on underlying issues helps to craft the best response. The Empower PR team works closely with the research & social teams to understand the full ecosystem a statement will be entering and craft an appropriate response.

Keeping Stakeholders Informed

Social listening provides real-time data that can keep stakeholders informed. This technology arms you with data your brand needs to respond to a crisis, even if it seems like a career-ending situation at the time. For example, when a beloved home makeover show had a lawsuit launched against it, some were quick to believe that a product placement on a related show would be catastrophic. But the Empower team provided real-time reports to the client to prove that not only was the conversation surrounding the lawsuit minimal, but it quickly faded over a few days.

If you experience a potential brand crisis, real-time and accurate insights are paramount to understanding the magnitude and speed of the issue and determining when and when not to respond. Social listening can help illuminate all of this and more to help your brands tell the right message to the right people at the right time.

It is vital to understand that in 2018, brands no longer control their narrative. Your narrative is dictated by how people discuss your brand on social media. Are you listening?