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Matt Moran

09 December 2013

Over the weekend I watched a small story within the cycling community blow up into something a little bigger than it should have been allowed to. One of the largest bicycle manufacturers was caught on the hop with a trademark enforcement story which had appeared in a local newspaper In Canada.

Putting aside the enforcement of trademarks (as I’m not a lawyer) it was interesting to see how the story took on a life of its own on Twitter and Facebook. Hashtags were created, Facebook posts were hijacked and the online cycling community couldn’t have failed to see the bike brand’s name appearing with increasing regularity from retweets. And not in a good way.

‘Crisis management’ is a phrase that many within the PR world will be familiar with; something goes wrong and you have a pre-determined strategy for putting things right. The fundamental point behind crisis management is around communication.

So it’s always disappointing to see brands with a strong social media presence, particularly those in the B2C sector, shut up shop at 1730 on a Friday afternoon. An effective social media strategy requires resources which some brands simply don’t have, so I’m not advocating brands are available to respond 24/7 as that would be neither effective nor efficient (or expected by the vast majority of customers).

What is required is an understanding between brand/agency/community manager that in the event of a story breaking outside of office hours, there is a clear plan in place to deal with it. Great community managers have fantastic relationships with colleagues across all aspects of a business so that they have the information to deal with questions, and quickly.

As I write this, there still hasn’t been a response on twitter from the cycling brand and their Facebook presence is now littered with negative comments, ruining much of the hard work by their social media team.

Much of the negative outpouring against the brand on social media could have been avoided with a few simple tweets and a Facebook post over the weekend, if only to buy some time for a more considered response today (Monday). Alas, the shop was shut and no amount of banging on the door could generate a response.

Good luck to the community manager when they reach their desk today, hope they take an extra shot in their morning coffee.