Social Media Disasters: The Do’s and the Don’ts

By: Abby Johnson - May 2, 2011

There are numerous examples in which companies really messed up on social media. For instance, remember Apple’s Antennagate incident or BP’s response to the Gulf oil spill? Both of these incidents resulted in a negative outcry toward both companies on social media channels.

Can you think of other examples when companies poorly handled their social campaigns? Let us know.

However, the difference between Apple and BP’s incidents is that Apple has a strong brand presence and BP does not. Apple was able to come back and reclaim its consumers, and although BP made some modifications, its efforts did not have the same affect as Apple’s did.

Social media can be tricky anytime, but especially during a crisis. According to Rob LaGesse, the Director of Media Marketing at Rackspace, “Social media can get you fired, but social media can also keep you gainfully employed.”

LaGesse is familiar with these disaster situations because Rackspace itself has experienced them. Back in 2009, the company had a data center power outage, which could have potentially been very detrimental to its reputation. However, the CEO appeared on YouTube to explain what had happened and how it would be resolved. Rackspace continued to update its customers through social media until the outage was completely restored.

As a result, the company was able to take a disaster situation and use it to build a stronger connection to its customers. Looking at experiences such as this, Rackspace developed a social media plan based simply on the idea of being helpful.

It’s no secret that consumers use social media to complain about brands and companies. But, LaGesse said that it is the responsibility of brands and companies to help consumers, even in spite of negativity.

“A lot of people think they can control their brand on social media, and you really can’t. All you can do is do the right thing by your customers,” he pointed out.

He explained that customers have to come first, and if they do, the branding aspect of a business will take care of itself. On top of this, he added that companies need to be honest, open, and communicate through a real human being.

By applying these steps to social media, LaGesse believes that you can not only have an effective social media campaign, but that you will also be able to build a support group that takes up for your brand in disaster situations.

Abby Johnson

About the Author

Abby JohnsonAbby Johnson is a reporter for WebProNews. Google: Google+

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  • Nick Stamoulis

    “All you can do is do the right thing by your customers”

    Agreed! You can’t control what people are saying about your brand on social networking sites, you can only respond and try to diffuse the situation. I think that may have been the hardest pill to swallow for a lot of companies. It’s more than a little unnerving to have little control over your brand, but social media has put the power in the hands of the consumer.

  • lloyd sexton

    Nothing new here really, just he power of “word of mouth” being increased over a billion fold. That being said, the main thrust of the article is dead on. Do right by your customers and they’ll do right by you.

    It is humorous that businesses still have to be reminded to do the basics.

  • Rick

    Fantastic points! I assist local businesses in developing their Facebook FanPage strategy and this is where I start… it’s all about supporting the customer and turning them into an army of marketers for the business.

    Plus, you provide great insight into overcoming disaster using your own company as an example.


    Rick Samara

    Internet Marketing Services for Small Business