Social Media Crisis Management 101 | How Some Brands Survived Bad PR

Posted on July 10, 2013 
Filed Under Brand Building, Content Marketing Strategy, Facebook, General, Internet Marketing, Social Media, Social Media Marketing, Social Networking, Social Networks, Twitter, Uncategorized

Social media is a powerful marketing tool in the hands of online business owners. When used right, the social sites can serve as two-way communication channels increasing engagement between businesses and prospective clients and building trust. Social media can influence business reach, impact and awareness, increasing website traffic and subsequently increasing sales.


The challenge however is building trust and loyalty. When people are liking your updates and retweeting your pictures, it’s all well but what happens when negative comments start making their way on your Facebook page or Twitter feed? How do you handle a social media crisis?

Some Ways Brands Deal with Bad PR on Social Media

1. Ignoring the Problem

ignoring-the-problemOn the social sites, especially Facebook and Twitter, it can happen that you are faced with a sudden crisis that you did not see coming. Maybe a customer decided to complain about a particular product and others decide to join the party. The worst thing you can choose to do in such an instance is to bury your face in the sand. Remember that not replying to a bad post or comment on your Facebook page or Twitter won’t make it go away.

2. Deleting the Offensive Post deleting-the-post

When someone leaves a bad review on your Facebook page or tweet something damaging about your brand, the instinctive thing to do is to delete the review but really speaking, this is an even worse approach to handling bad PR than ignoring the problem. If you delete a negative review that a customer made on Facebook or Twitter, you will only make the person madder. Remember that the average Facebook or Twitter user has 100+ friends and followers. A negative review from any one customer can go viral exponentially.

3. “I’ll Show You”

If a customer leaves an angry complaint on your Facebook or Twitter account, it does not help any viable purpose to respond in kind. An angry or defensive reply won’t get you anywhere except maybe make the problem worse with the malcontent. As the cliché goes, the customer is always right.

4. A Hollow Apology

tendering-apologyWhen it comes to handling bad PR on social media, sometimes throwing a hollow apology out there can be more damaging than no apology at all. If you are apologizing, the apology needs to be sincere. A hollow apology is no way to solve bad PR. It will only serve to aggravate the problem because generally speaking, people know when they are being placated.

The correct way to deal with bad PR on social media is to apologize (the sincere way) and go on to provide a viable solution to the problem your customer is having. Remember this: A person who leaves a bad review on your Facebook page, for example, originally “liked” you and possibly bought something from you. He or she trusted you enough to spend money with you. Now they’ve had a bad experience and a bad comment is nothing more than an opportunity for you to convert a disgruntled customer into a loyal one. People only want to know they are being listened to.

How Brands have Handled Bad PR | Some Case Studies

1. United Airlines

A United Airlines customer, Dave Carroll’s guitar was damaged in-flight. The airline refused compensation. He took this issue up with the airline by posting a song on YouTube entitled ‘United Breaks Guitars’. The video went viral with over 9 million views and an incredible number of negative comments directed towards the airline. The stock of the airline fell by 10% following this little stunt costing investors approximately$180 million. Dave ended up getting his financial compensation, which he chose to donate to charity.

2. Domino’s Pizza

Another example of a social media crisis is Domino’s Pizza. The story goes something like this: Two employees posted a video of them tampering with food about to go out to customers on YouTube. The video went on to get 600, 000 views with Domino’s stock dropping by 10% in one week. Domino dealt with the bad PR with an apology video.

3. Red Cross

In 2011, one of the employees at Red Cross tweeted “Ryan found two more 4 bottle packs of Dogfish Head’s Midas Touch beer…. when we drink we do it right #gettngslizzerd”


The tweet was meant for the employee’s personal account. The tweet stayed up for approximately an hour before it was taken down.


Red Cross subsequently responded to this social media blunder by following the offensive tweet with a humorous one acknowledging that the previous tweet was a mistake.


Also the main subject of the rogue tweet Dogfish acknowledged the incident by asking his fans to donate to Red Cross.


What is your way of handling a crisis like this? We would like to hear your thoughts. Sound them off in the comments.

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