“Engage… or die.” Author and strategist Brian Solis is famous for that nugget from his book, Engage, that started the whole social media engagement revolution. Even though we think of engagement as a principle of the conversion process, developing loyal fans will aid you in a crisis as well. In his research on how advanced companies prepare for crisis, Jeremiah Owyang describes the social media strategies that help companies prepare for and avert crises.
In crisis communications, they are more appropriately called advocacy or loyalty strategies. They are directly related to building a positive repuation that can function as a shield in a negative event. Effective crisis managers need to be savvy in social media loyalty strategies. In this digital age, a crisis manager that doesn’t understand how to build social media engagement is someone who cannot help organizations effectively prepare for and weather a crisis. It is today’s golden ticket to winning at mitigating a crisis faster and with less damage. Understanding the higher level benefits of developing advocates is a necessary skill for crisis managers. Also, it’s key to understand the difference between influence and advocacy. This Slideshare presentation from Ant’s Eye View does a great job of spelling that out. A thanks to Christopher Carfi for passing that along.
There are several benefits of developing engagement strategies that complement crisis strategies:
- Build a corps of invested ambassadors that will advocate for your brand in the event of a crisis.
- Identify and cultivate goodwill conversations with key influencers and watch dogs who can extend your reach in a crisis.
- Develop working relationships with media representatives in the social space.
- Develop an experienced social media strategy and staff before crisis hits so the brand won’t appear a novice or “pretender” in the social space in the event of a crisis. Communities will advocate for you a in crisis if you have nurtured the relationship already.
There are six steps to building social media engagement strategies that build advocacy. It’s important to know how to coach organizations in effective everyday social media strategies that partner with effective crisis plans. The bottom line is it makes our job easier when a crisis comes knocking.
1. Identify Engagement Goals: What are the end goals? You should have several that start with reach and extend to building loyalty. Use a thorough strategy, such as this one from Amber Naslund, to write the goals so you have a blueprint for measuring success.
2. Engineer personas that portray desired engagement levels: Who are the people you are trying to reach? Build several personas that include demographic, sociographic, and online behavior data. My new book, Listen, Engage, Respond goes into detail on building personas for loyalty goals.
3. Identify your target social media channels: Using research from your sector and your fan base, identify the channels that best suit your needs. Remember, more isn’t always better.
4. Develop content segmentation strategies that add value: Consider established online fan behaviors (from #2) when developing content strategies for specific levels of engagement and personas. Remember giving is better than asking. In terms of content, how can you meet your stakeholders’ needs?
5. Employ appropriate calls to action: As people move through the stages of engagement, value-added calls to action move them to the next stage. Have calls to action for all engagement levels. One size doesn’t fit all.
6. Track, measure, and correct. If you’ve set out your goals correctly, you will have appropriate metrics in place. Here you are tracking, analyzing, and making mid-course corrections, if needed.
Have you spent time learning how to incorporate social media loyalty strategies into your crisis planning? I’d like to hear about your experience in the comments below.