Greggs has been in the news this week thanks to the fake logo, complete with offensive slogan, which came to light because of a Google algorithm error. This had the potential to be a PR nightmare, but Greggs’ social media team handled the situation so well that the media coverage has in fact been full of praise for them and a negative situation well and truly turned into a positive.
They could have chosen to respond in many ways – ignore it, put out a stuffy corporate statement or issue threats towards Google but instead chose to respond in a human way with a series of funny and witty tweets that the public could relate to.
Social media is a double-edged sword for businesses. While it provides a way for brands to connect with their customers on a personal level, it also immortalises any mistakes for the world to see. There are many opportunities for disasters to be created. It could be posting a personal message or link from a company account, broadcasting an opinion or statement that is inappropriate or insensitive, being hacked or an external fault, as was the case with Greggs. Whatever the cause, a swift response is the key to managing it successfully. The speed with which information moves via these channels in comparison to traditional media outlets can elevate an error to a crisis, but it is that speed which also enables brands to communicate quickly and effectively in order to rectify a situation.
Although in the instance of Greggs, the initial fault didn’t lie with them, there are many examples of brands and organisations which have both created and solved crisis through their own social media channels. A great example is the American Red Cross which had to act when one of its social media team sent out a rogue tweet on the organisation’s Twitter feed which referenced drinking and ‘gettingslizzered.’ Rather than take a pious approach, the Red Cross acknowledged the tweet with good grace and humour and by doing so prevented it from turning into a disaster. In fact, as well as averting a crisis, the incident was then turned into a great fundraising opportunity with Dogfish Beer, which was mentioned in the original tweet, asking followers to donate to the organisation. The employee who made the error also ‘fessed up’ on her personal Twitter in the same vein, with humility and humour.
Both Greggs and the Red Cross show that the quick response of the social media team is key to managing a crisis. By openly discussing the problem and engaging with followers in an appropriate way, the brands were respected. Sweeping things under the carpet and allowing a pool of negativity to grow would only have made things worse.