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How an employee app can help you avoid social media disasters

If you don’t have a social media crisis plan ready - panic and freak out. But if you do, now is the time to execute it. By using a mobile employee app, you can make the execution of your emergency plan quickly and effectively. With collaboration options, tasks and ready-made workflows, you can make sure all your employees are on the same page, no matter where they are physically.


Social media fails come in all shapes and sizes. From tiny little embarrassments (that you can actually “ride” on to create conversation), to brand-killing disasters that can, potentially, damage your reputation and business beyond repair.


To avoid a crisis, you should first understand the types of disasters and what leads to them. I like to group them roughly into three categories: Someone goofed up, angry client gone viral, and disgruntled employee throwing shade. We’ll go over all three and then explain what an employee app is and how it can help.



  • Someone Goofed Up


People make mistakes, and social media employees are people. Everyone messes up sometimes, be it due to negligence, lack of knowledge or misguided ideas about what is funny or engaging. These are probably the most common of social media crises.

In 2014, American Apparel found themselves in a bit of a cyber-kerfuffle when their Tumblr account manager accidentally reblogged an image of the space shuttle Challenger exploding. The young social media employees simply mistook the photo for an image of fireworks clouds and smoke, appropriate for posting on July 4th.

American Apparel were quick to remove the post and apologize for the mishap. Their claim was that the young Tumblr account manager was simply born after the Challenger disaster, so did not recognize the image.

The AdWeek article about the event was summarized with the claim that “social media should not ever go exclusively through a 20-year-old in skinny jeans”. Personally, I believe that a good social media strategy does not allow for social media to go exclusively through any one person, regardless of age or pants style.


  1. Angry Client Gone Viral

When I hear the name “United Airlines”, I instantly think of broken guitars. At least I did until a few weeks ago when United outdid themselves. If you somehow missed this mother of social media disasters then on April 10th, David Dao, a passenger on a UA flight refused to disembark the airplane after it was overbooked. One thing led to another and he was forcefully removed from the plane by police.

Since it’s 2017, videos of the occurence quickly appeared on social media and United got hammered, which caused their stock price to drop by 4%, the equivalent of $1 billion. A later investigation found that the passenger had been violent towards police officers but that was too late.

To better understand what went wrong we need to go back to where it started for United. Back in 2009, United Airlines were the target of a viral video made by a musician whose guitar was damaged by United Airlines. Within less than a week, millions have viewed the video, while United Airlines avoided responding online, and chose to contact the disappointed passenger offline in order to resolve the issue.

It would be a disservice to United to claim that they haven’t learned anything in 8 years. What is more likely is that a large company like United has not yet found a way to communicate quickly and effectively with all the relevant stakeholders in the company.


  1. Disgruntled Employee Throwing Shade

Much like customers, employees take to social media to badmouth their employer, or bring attention to bad business practices. A good example is HMV, where employees briefly took over the corporate Twitter account in 2013 to “live tweet from HR” as they were being fired.

Obviously, the best way to prevent that is to try and keep all your employees (and ex-employees!) happy. Except (sadly) that’s not possible. You simply can’t keep everyone happy. What you CAN do, is improve your internal communications to get feedback from unhappy employees before they misuse the company social media channels, or simply badmouth you on their own social media account.


Social Media Combat Readiness - Preparation and Prevention

A social media disaster action plan should be an integral part of your social media strategy. It’s not unlike a workplace sexual harassment policy. You rather prevent it from happening, but still have guidelines in place to deal with sexual harassment complaints when they’re made. As you well know, having guidelines is meaningless if your employees are not aware of them, and do not know how to execute them. So training is crucial.


How a Mobile App Can Help


To maximize battle preparedness, you can use a mobile app to detail the workflows, their participants and expected timeframes. These are known as employee apps. Instead of collecting dust in a network drive folder, an employee app places your social media disaster action plan at the fingertips of all employees involved in your social media activity at all times and from anywhere.


For example, if United Airlines has clearly defined workflows for dealing with customer complaints online, their response to the broken guitar owner would have been more effective in protecting the brand reputation.


American Apparel, on the other hand, could use the mobile app to coordinate social media posts in real time. Delaying the post by half an hour to get an okay from the rest of the team is a lot better than spending a few days dealing with the fallout of such a mishap.


When it comes to disgruntled employees, the availability of accessible and open communication tools and channel can often save you plenty of embarrassment. In most cases, an employee will show their discontent internally before taking to Twitter or Facebook to whine about the boss.


All Hands to Battlestations


On social media channels, everything happen RIGHT NOW. Regardless of the type of crisis, in most cases, one of the most important factors is response speed. Reacting quickly can make the difference between a small embarrassment and a full-blown Internet tsunami. HoweverBusiness Management Articles, doing so hastily and without thought can do more damage than good.

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