Now I know that this story, from Communicate Magazine’s super website, is more about social media exacerbating a crisis, rather than social media starting a crisis, but the principle holds true.
Social media, by its very nature – independent, free-thinking, anti-establishment, rapid-response, quick-to-anger, react-first-think-later and accessible by all sorts of random wingnuts – is dangerous. Everyone should have social media as part of their crisis plan – here’s my post on the subject – and they should have a rigid social media policy in place, governing what employees can and cannot do with it on company business and on company time.
In fairness, however, in the cases of KFC and Hennes, social media is not to blame.
It’s the stupid, stupid people who decided that running ads that could be misconstrued or shredding clothes rather than donating them to charity (respectively) were good ideas. And it’s the communications people who probably knew about this stuff, but didn’t have the authority, the gravitas or the balls to fulfil their role.
Which is to stand there, and in their best Alistair Campbell, shout “There is no f*cking way that you are doing that.”