This morning Burger King‘s twitter account was hacked in that legitimately scary, they’re pointing out bad things from our brand, making stuff up and telling people to go to our bigger competitor down the street kind of way. But by now you probably know this and if not you can read about it here, here or here with the response. Instead I want to talk about the question that always comes up when something like this happens: what do we as learn from it?
It’s a question that feels like a broken record. After all real-time is not new, social is not new, explosions [given how big 'social' is let's ditch the idea that these incidents are somehow relegated to a channel] are not new… Facebook launched over 9 years ago, Twitter over 6 and that’s not even considering the predecessor sites, forums and other communities. Incidents should not come as a surprise; they can and should be planned for.
The reality is you will have an issue. I don’t care if you’re a fortune 50 or a company with 50 customers bootstrapping it; whether it’s an employee in a store going rogue, a social slip up, hacking, lost phone or a “real” brand incident there’s too many things that can go wrong to ever say “that won’t be us”.
The second reality is that the worse the issue is, the more people [people more senior than you] will want to discuss, debate, and talk it through. Responding is not always the best approach but there’s a difference between deciding not to respond and being unable to respond.
And the third, and most frightening, reality is that you, as the social manager, won’t be there when it happens. Between days off, middle of the night incidents, plane trips, events, and just having a stomach flu the odds are simply against you seeing something start. In fact you should bank on the reality that you will not be around for it.
Thus you make a plan. Planning eliminates the running around deciding who needs to be called into the huge meeting. Planning takes out the so-and-so is in charge so we have to wait for them even though they’re in Bora Bora. Planning lets you act in real-time even when people want to stop revert to slow time.
A plan isn’t going to stop an issue from occurring or make the resolution become a 5-minute call or but it’s the only way to get involved in anywhere near real time and real time is how you win back some semblance of control, how you cut down on the spread and how you retain [or start to rebuild] trust. If you don’t have a plan yet you clear your calendar for tomorrow.
As for Burger King, maybe they had a plan. Maybe they’ll share it with us. It took just an hour to pull the account Twitter and as, Dave Fleet notes, there’s just a lot we don’t know before we judge beyond that.