Social Media Crises Out Of Control? Infographic And Empirical Studies

Social Media Crises Out Of Control? Infographic And Empirical Studies

By Ralf Skirr.

When it comes to social media for your business, you probably think about networking and attracting leads and customers.

Social media, though, is not only what YOU are doing regarding your business, it’s also what your customers are doing.

  • Would it take you by surprise if a grumpy customer sent out nasty Tweets about your biz and the message would spread?
  • What would you do about it?
  • Do you have a plan for damage control?

Every now and then we hear about social media crises – often an event when customers complain publicly and their complaints are read by thousands or millions via Twitter, Facebook, and Blogs.

Yet, few business owners realize how fast criticism spreads through social media, and how fast customers learned to use social.

Last month Jay Bear held a webinar on social media crises at SocialMediaExaminer’s SocialMediaSuccessSummit2012. He said:

“We don't always believe that crisis will happen in social media, but they absolutely do. I mean, things happen and increasingly, it's out of our control. When every customer is a reporter and things happen in real time, crises can occur that can impact yourbrand in social media.

The best way … to ameliorate and mitigate a social media crisis is to do some pre-crisis planning.”

In this post you’ll see 2 studies that examined how social media crises spread. Jeremiah Owyang’s study covers the years 2001 through 2011; Christian Faller’s study covers 2011 in more detail.

Fallers’s Bachelor Thesis is brand new (April 2012) and builds on Owyang’s previous findings. Faller examined 30 social media crises that happened in 2011 and answers questions as:

  1. In which channels did the crises start?
  2. What were the triggers of the crises?
  3. What were the causes of the crises?
  4. What are the recommended action points for businesses?

There’s no telling what impact crisis will have on your business when you face it unprepared. You’ll probably sit on the sidelines watching as the disaster unfolds.

Use the info in this post to get a general idea about the problem, and start collecting ideas for your own pre-crisis planning.

The Epicenters of Social Media Crises

You can download Christian Faller's new study 'The Epicenters of Social Media Crises' here:

Epicenters of Social Media Crises, Study by Christian Faller

Download PDF The Epicenters of Social Media Crises

Here's an infographic with some of the findings.

Infograhpic Social Media Crises

Christian Faller references Owyang's study quite often. That's why I've included it here:

Social Readiness: How Advanced Companies Prepare

Here's Jeremiah Owyang's Slideshare presentation 'Social Readiness: How Advanced Companies Prepare.' Social media crises on the rise – yet most companies are ill-prepared.

See pages 16 – 18 for charts on social media crises.

The two studies above analyzed crises that were covered and documented by mainstream media, usually related to large corporations.

What do you think?

Are social media crises limited to big business, or can they damage a small business just as hard?

Do you have a pre-crisis plan?

What are good steps to take before a social media crisis gets out of control?

Let me know in the comments.


Category: Social Media For Business | Tags: , , , , ,


Leave a comment
  1. CD June 10, 2012 at 5:36 am #

    Social media crisis affects all businesses – big or small. but maybe it would affect small business more. I think what can prevent these crisis depends on how companies respond to clients concern. It is best to have an efficient customer service to address them immediately.

  2. Drkelp June 15, 2012 at 7:02 pm #

    Have downloaded the social media thesis and will read with interest.

  3. Harold Gardner June 15, 2012 at 7:03 pm #

    I am still convinced that most businesses are still in the advertising mode when it comes to Social Media.  They really struggle to get the ROI of SM.

    • Ralf Skirr June 15, 2012 at 7:09 pm #

      I guess most businesses are overwhelmed. After all, even the experts struggle to ‘get’ the ROI of social media, or to agree on what it is, or how to measure.

  4. Drkelp June 15, 2012 at 7:39 pm #

    Have just finished reading the paper. Very interesting and raises some interesting issues. Thx g
    for posting.

  5. Mana Ionescu June 16, 2012 at 4:59 am #

    We've seen it happen to small businesses but the impact is hardly of the same proportions as for a big biz. All should have a pre-crisis crisis plan though. Also each campaign should have a crisis plan. Don't you find that most crisis are related to a "planned event" or to something that is completely predictable? 

  6. David Brice June 16, 2012 at 5:59 am #

    Most companies don't get the point of social media. They use it as an advertising platform rather than a method to engage customers and potential customers. Social media is an extension of customer service, a way to answer queries and show that you are an expert in your field. It's an opportunity to show that you are human rather than just a website full of products that everybody else has.

    Every business has a time when things go wrong and have an unhappy customer. How a business handles that unhappy customer is key to maintaining your business reputation and solving a potentally damaging situation. I always say that if a complaint is handled properly you will have a customer for life. The way you do that is by being honest, saying sorry if needed and solving the problem. 

    Whilst a crisis plan is important a business also needs to monitor its online reputation and be onto any potential problems before they get out of control.

  7. Kathryn Stewart June 16, 2012 at 12:52 pm #

    I believe it that both big and small business's are affected. I also believe that a lot of the issue can be solved from the companies end using custmor service skills to address the problem.

  8. Chris Ford June 17, 2012 at 1:01 am #

    Social media crises can be far more destructive to the small business. Many small businesses have little to no budgets for marketing to begin with, let alone for crisis preparedness. I was a little surprised that more than 30% were caused by the companies themselves, rather than a higher frequency of customer disatisfaction incidents.

  9. Wayne Mansfield June 17, 2012 at 3:28 am #

    I love the unique perspective of this piece: "Social media, though, is not only what YOU are doing regarding your business, it’s also what your customers are doing."

    Too often we are just focused on what we are doing.

    I have downloaded the pdf and will refer to it in the coming months.

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