As far as hacks go, the recent breach of Burger King’s Twitter account could not have been much worse from a public-relations perspective. Hackers gained control and “announced” Burger King had been acquired by McDonald’s. From there, the renegade tweeters devolved into obscenities and racial slurs. Just a day later, the same thing happened to Jeep. Ugly stuff, for sure, but the incidents provide some valuable lessons for companies that use CRM solutions to monitor what’s said about them in social media.
Namely, companies should not rely just on tools that automate and pre-program Tweets from their CRM solutions or social media management accounts. Companies ought to be monitoring the social space 24/7. To be sure, there are companies that do invest this level of attention and resources into the Twitter channel. Airlines, to cite one example, tend to monitor Twitter and social media around the clock for negative mentions or requests for help. In reality, however, such examples are more exception than rule.
Top 100 Brands Use Twitter, But Few Make It Central
The world’s top 100 brands are all using Twitter, but according to an Simply Measured survey, far fewer use it on a regular basis, with only 15 companies responding to 10 or more Tweets per day via a customer service handle.
“The majority of the brands who’ve adopted the customer service handle have used it regularly, but few have made it a clear priority and part of their overall customer service strategy,” according to Simply Measured.
That is going to change, industry watchers say, pointing to such examples as Oreo’s wildly successful Tweet during the Super Bowl blackout as an example. The company “culture-jacked” the event with an image of its iconic cookie and the message: “You can still dunk in the dark.” Twitter lit up.
“From now on, brands are going to have to do a lot more to stand out because the pool of real-time participants is going to get crowded,” Shama Kabani, CEO of The Marketing Zen Group told Adweek. “Oreo was in the right place at the right time. Next year, advertisers will be sitting there, waiting.”
Pitfalls Lie In Wait
Of course, pitfalls lie in wait with this strategy—as the hapless spokesman for Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Idaho) learned in another object lesson provided by this year’s Super Bowl. The spokesman was reportedly fired when he sent a Tweet from the Congressman’s account instead of, as he thought he was doing, from his own.
With that caveat in mind, here are suggestions for brands as they ramp up a real-time Twitter presence:
- Train your staff to be open – and to apologize when necessary. That is what Burger King did about its hack, tweeting apologies and explaining what had happened.
- Learn to take advantage of unexpected publicity when appropriate. Here, too, Burger King provides an example. Its first Tweet after it came back online welcomed the new followers it had collected in the wake of the attack. “Hope you all stick around!” it tweeted.
- Measure your results. In the end, companies are not on Twitter for the fun and amusement of their customers, even if that is what they are providing. They are on it to close sales.