It’s been a busy couple of weeks in the land of Twitter, @BurgerKing and @Jeep were hacked and @MTV and @BET pretended to be.
If you were following Twitter closely, you might have also seen the Twitter spat between Justin Bieber and the drummer from The Black Keys, Patrick Carney.
The Black Keys had enjoyed a successful night at the Grammy’s with three wins for the band and another for the lead singer Dan Auerbach. Afterwards, Carney was interviewed by TMZ and asked whether Bieber should have got a Grammy by now. He replied with “He’s rich, right?… Grammys are for music, not for money… and he’s making a lot of money. He should be happy.”
Bieber then took to Twitter to publish this Tweet to his 34 million followers.
Almost immediately, Bieber’s loyal following had waged war against Carney. While this would have sent many running for the hills and deleting their Twitter accounts, Carney held his own by replying to comments using humour and retweeting particularly funny ‘disses’.
Finally he boldly started to assume the singers identity by gradually changing his name to Justin Bieber and replying as if he was the singer. This of course, further infuriated Bieber fans – as well as picking up some unsuspecting followers who thought he was the real deal.
Aside from annoying a small number of his real fans with a few days worth of ‘Justin’ tweets, he actually managed to ride the storm by meeting it head-on and he also got a lot of love from how he was handling the angry Bieber-fan onslaught.
So what can brands learn from how he handled himself?
Carney dealt with the situation swiftly, without fear and he let his personality work for him.
He was of course, able to be far more ‘cheeky’ than most brands could hope to get away with and while we would never advise brands to use these particular tactics, there are some take away lessons here for brands posting their day-to-day content or experiencing their own social media crisis.
Don’t be scared.
Carney didn’t shy away from dealing with negative comments. Brands – particularly if they are new to social – can be tempted to bury their heads in the sand when dealing with difficult posts (or sometimes, any posts) and may choose to ignore them, hoping they’ll go away.
Ignore the ‘wrong’ one and it could have the potential to turn a customer service issue into a full-blown social media crisis. Rule number one — Make sure you respond quickly to questions or problems.
Carney was swift to act, replied to posts and also retweeted them so it was clear to everyone who visited his profile or anyone following his updates that he was dealing with the situation and may have even discouraged some angry tweeters from joining in. We’ve seen a lot of high profile cases recently where people have been driven off Twitter by a furious mob, simply because they felt like it was easier to run away, rather than weather the storm.
For these larger, social media crises, make sure you have a process written down for managing this type of event – while we’re sure Carney didn’t have his plan in place before the Grammy’s, his quick thinking did help him survive the fallout. Brands may have to go through a series of different stakeholders before a plan can be acted upon, so it is essential that this process be nailed down.
Be yourself. Be human.
We’ve all heard it before, but it’s true. Social should be social. People aren’t interested in interacting with boring staid messaging. They want to feel like a brand or person has an identity. Whether that’s in everyday posts or in how they handle a crisis.
Behind all the big strategies, campaigns and messaging should lie a human heartbeat. Carneys’ decision to go bold and his brilliant use of light-hearted humour in the face of some pretty nasty and sometimes homophobic posts, made this into a much more positive news story that it would have been if he’d hidden away from it. He could have passed this over to an agency and released a statement but he chose to ride the storm with his own personal brand of humour.
For brands, you will know when posts require a serious response but it’s just as important to know when it’s okay to interact in a more human, relaxed way.
People want to feel like they are interacting with a real person. I’m sure everyone following Carney’s news feed feels like they know him a bit better, even when he was masquerading as Bieber, and if you manage to convey this type of messaging for your brand, it will go a long way to help building some brand love amongst your following.
Don’t be afraid to use humour in your messaging if the situation or your branding allows it. A serious customer service issue would not be the place for this method but as Carney saw, treating his crisis with light humour, worked pretty well for him. You also saw this with the recent Burger King hack on their Twitter account. Once they had regained control, instead of releasing a very serious statement, they made it light-hearted and recognised that they had picked up a lot of new followers.
Carney, Burger King and Jeep have all have seen this positive side of their recent social media crises as they’ve added some hefty numbers to their Twitter follower count. It goes to show that if dealt with in the right way, a negative can be turned into a positive. If they keep the right mix of entertainment, value and transparency and let their ‘brands’ personality shine through, they may just keep all their new followers happy.
Keep this mix in your social feeds and you’ll start to reap the benefits too!