Last month, social media hackers descended upon Twitter. The Twitter feeds of major brands featured posts and changes made by foes and faux, as some companies faked a crisis. Crisis communications experts discussed risk management strategies and the ramifications of a social media crisis.
Sean Fleming, head of digital at Nexus Communications
I’m not convinced the Burger King Twitter hack, despite being as public as it was, actually constitutes much of a crisis for the brand at all. Sales of burgers won’t fall. But this is not an indication that social media has no value. I also don’t think the Burger King brand will suffer. If there’s anything likely to last beyond the length of the usual flash in the Twitter pan, it will be growing clamour for Twitter to offer more robust security, to stop someone taking over your account if they get through your password. @fizzyegg: This #horsemeat thing worries me purely because @UKTesco don’t seem to know what’s in their burgers or how it got there.
Toby Southgate, CEO UK & Ireland, The Brand Union
It was refreshing to see the traditional brand no-no’s go out of the window – competitors interacting with one another in a positive way – the Dunkerque spirit perhaps. McDonald’s quick reaction which displayed sympathy for Burger King was a great PR move. Similarly Wendy’s lent a bit of humour to the situation when they tweeted about ‘having an alibi’ when all eyes were on them. If Burger King and McDonald’s can get along, think about what that means for everyone else in the fast food scrum.
Lisa Ronchetti, director at adhoc pr
Brand managers shouldn’t lose sight of the valuable opportunity they have to interact with their customers even during a crisis. Social media is by its very nature designed to be social so brands shouldn’t be afraid to see the funny side
Melanie Seasons, Community Innovation Director at Onlinefire
I think there’s an interesting angle in how this played out for McDonald’s. Of course, in theory a rival’s demise would be a good thing for MDs, but by being associated with such an unprofessional act doesn’t reflect particularly well on them, either. It did put them in a slightly awkward situation to the point where they had to tweet out from their own feed. Another thing to note is the fact the scandal added a whopping (pun intended) 30,000 followers onto their feed. Perhaps it goes with the old traditional media adage that there’s no such thing as ‘bad news’.
Annie Macfarlane, head of community, Yomego
While I suspect most of the security situations we hear about could be filed under ‘user error’, none of us are immune and this should be a pertinent reminder for all of us to take some simple measures, both to minimise risk and have a plan in place about how we’d deal with a security breach. Reviewing password complexity, assigning internal responsibilities and maintaining regular checks on apps with access to Twitter is a good place to start.
Nick, Creative Director at The Writer
Social media (when done well) usually sees brands showing their personality. Yet Burger King’s official statement sounds aloof and out of touch. A missed opportunity to get a real voice out there, say something sincere and connect with their customers. The lesson? The time to sort this out is now – before a crisis. Have a process in place. And make sure there’s someone involved in it who knows your tone of voice.