A vast majority of CEOs agree that a company’s corporate reputation is more important today than it was five years ago. New technology and social networks are reshaping the landscape of how society convenes and campaigns on critical issues.
So you would expect those CEOs would be mindful of the importance of being ready for an unexpected problem online. But a recent study shows that 72% of companies that have been subject to social media criticism however strong (ranging from a single complaint to a full-scale campaign) rated their preparedness as average or below, with 20% being completely unprepared, according to a July 2012 report by Ethical Corporation and Useful Social Media. Just 15% of companies reported that they were fully engaged with the problem.
This finding follows from research showing that social media users believe that companies are out of step in their use of the social tools. In fact, according to a Allstate/National Journal report from June, 64% of these users want to see an increase in companies using social media to respond to questions and complaints. 73% believe that companies use it chiefly for advertising.
What should those CEOs being doing to ready their companies?
- Create a robust crisis communications plan
- Learn from other’s mistakes and make adjustments
- Be prepared to take immediate steps if you are criticized online (but be sure you should respond)
- Don’t abdicate responsibility for your social media efforts
Bottom line — prepare, adapt, respond and take ownership. Don’t be like the 72% who talk a good game but aren’t ready to respond in the heat of the moment.