Anatomy of a Social Media Disaster

or Why you need a Crisis Management Plan.

Yesterday Sarah and I attended VAFRE’s monthly luncheon where Lauren Kiger of VCU Massey Cancer Center and Hunter Leemon of Sportable were discussing peer- to-peer fundraising platforms.  Lauren was talking specifically about the opportunity social media presents in peer-to-peer fundraising when the recent ACAC social media issue came to mind.  I pulled out a notepad and jotted down a few words, thinking – we need to write a blog on this!  While I’m sure everyone who works for The Spark Mill has an opinion on the issues of this particular topic, this is intended to serve as a professional guideline of do’s and don’ts as witnessed over the past week on our social media.

For those of you unfamiliar with the “situation” to which I’m referring I invite you to stop, and go to the ACAC Midlothian Facebook page and read their January 1, 2016 apology post and note the number of comments to that single post – at the present time there are 927.  We have embedded the post below for you to review. You may also wish to do some research and look back for the post that started it all, just to get a feel for this grassroots social media explosion.  The short of it – one woman claimed to be mistreated by the staff of the facility and posted a complaint to her friends on Facebook about it.  The result – THOUSANDS of Facebook comments, likes, shares, television coverage by a local news network, and the intentional tanking of the facility’s ratings on Facebook.  Scary? Awesome? Powerful? Yes. Yes. Yes.  On the other side of social media and its power, former clients RVA Breastfeeds utilized this as an opportunity to better inform anyone exposed to this story of the legal rights of women and legal responsibilities of employers and business owners reaching over 8,000 people. 

This incident certainly showed the dangerous side of the peer-to-peer network, but, thankfully, there are actionable takeaways, a few of which we have highlighted below.

3 ways you can be prepared for the power of social media

1)    HAVE A CRISIS MANAGEMENT PLAN.  The actual incident was one thing.  The mismanagement on social media turned it in to an entirely different beast.  It is important that your organization have written policies and procedures in the event a situation should arise.    

2)   RESPECT THE POWER OF SOCIAL MEDIA.  People are organized and connected.  It only took a couple of passionate breastfeeding advocates to see the original post and within minutes it was everywhere.  Multiple Facebook breastfeeding groups were alerted and hundreds of posts, shares, pictures of women breastfeeding and negative reviews happened in minutes.  Holy cow it was fascinating to watch!  Know that Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest…all of it has changed the way the world does business, the expediency and breadth with which information is shared, and the way society holds people and organizations accountable.     

3)   HARNESS THE POWER OF SOCIAL MEDIA.  People are organized and connected.  It only took a couple of passionate breastfeeding advocates to see the original post and within minutes it was everywhere.  Build relationships with passionate people and groups and let them work for you.  Whatever your cause, whether it’s breastfeeding, homelessness, human trafficking, food access, or coding – there are people that share your passion.  Let them help you.  Explore how your organization can utilize the peer-to-peer model for marketing and fundraising, we’d be happy to help.

What does your crisis management plan say?

We are sincerely sorry to have upset a mom in our club recently. We pride ourselves on being a club that caters to...

Posted by ACAC Midlothian on Friday, January 1, 2016