How not to use social media for your travel brand after a terrorist attack
The tragedy in Boston has left many speechless, queasy and simply out-of-sorts with their place in the world.
For the travel industry, terrorist events like these have the potential for huge disruption of business. Uncertainty surrounding safety is never good for business.
And so when a brand wades into the dangerous waters of post-tragedy social media engagement, the risks are enormous. From appearing insensitive to reverting back a tone of “business as usual,” all social media teams must carefully consider how their immediate reactions on social media will appear not only to their immediate audience, but the wider world.
Case in point: the food brand Epicurious. Owned by media congolomerate Condé Nast, the food brand jumped back into their sharing schedule with the following tweets:
To make matters worse – or at least to appear more robotic and insensitive, the brand then placed an auto-responder – or at least a copy/paste message – for any offended parties.
As Mr Media Training pointed out in his post surrounding this SNAFU:
Get your legs blown off by a terrorist? Try these scones! Lose a cherished friend? Maybe this bowl of breakfast energy can help!
The initial tweet and subsequent response is just not up to par with a giant media brand – they should be better at these sorts of things. After all, they have endless experience across brands.
What should they have done instead? Well, first off, they should never have entered the fray at all. No one is thinking about baking scones when grisly images of victims with missing limbs are leading news stories across the world.
Second, they should have flat out apologized, across all media, and from a senior person at the company – the CEO.
Finally, they should have crafted individual responses to any and all responses – both positive and negative. The team should have sniffed out an impending brand crisis, and immediately dedicated one *senior* person to manage the inevitable backlash.
“Set and forget” is not a strategy when it comes to fixing a mistake. It does not appear genuine or caring, and most certainly makes people lose their appetite for the brand.
Mr Media Training suggested the following steps:
- They can start by engaging with readers individually—and offering human responses instead of form ones.
- They can learn from KitchenAid’s crisis example from late last year, when that company’s brand manager personally jumped in, stated that the person responsible for the tweets wouldn’t be allowed to represent their brand anymore, and offered on-the-record interviews.
- They should pledge that they will provide everyone on the staff with social media training; and, if they don’t already have a social media policy, that they will create one immediately.
- Epicurious should pledge a donation to victims of the Boston tragedy in an effort to make something good come out of this experience.
Nick Vivion was a reporter (and later also global events lead) for Tnooz between August 2012 and July 2015. He was the launch co-founder of Booty's, a global street food restaurant in New Orleans and now is AVP Operations, North America at Zomato.