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When social media goes bad: how to prepare for and manage issues online

By Renee Creer, Social Media Strategist, Liquid Ideas. Email: , Twitter: @liquidideas

Social media. Everyone has an opinion on it. For business, it can be viewed as a number of things; on the negative side it’s an enigma, a thing to be feared, a distraction from real business activities, a necessary evil or a big bloody waste of time.

On the positive side it’s a b-line to customers, a place to make friends, fame and fortune, a fast and cheap communication tool, or a valuable feedback and information channel.

Love it or hate it, it’s here to stay, so you can embrace it, try to master it and roll with its punches, or make like the dinosaurs and die. I think we all agree that the former is preferred. So, it’s time to get moving, because the majority of the wine industry is already way late to this party. It’s such a shame because in many ways, the industry has the most going for it when it comes to social media.

By that I mean stories, content, and eager consumers. For example, there are new vintages and products every year, winemakers and beautiful wineries, food, family, tradition and heritage, countryside, travel and agriculture. Then there are awards, events and a range of lifestyle occasions and educational opportunities to share with consumers who are passionate, curious and ready to explore and discover a world of wine. That’s some rich social media territory in which to set up camp.

But it can be scary. We get it. While customer experience happens everywhere – offline or online – the stakes are potentially much higher on social media because of the speed and scope of which issues can develop. Once brand reputation has been dented or destroyed online, it can have real world, bottom line impact, which can be hard to recover from and you can’t just hit the delete button.

Most of you are experts at making wine, not at creating superstar social media profiles. What’s more, you’re especially not expert at navigating social media disasters – not many are. It’s not difficult with a bit of forethought to get yourself ready if an issue crops up.

Let’s start with the good times

In the good times smart businesses plan for the bad times. It’s not sexy or fun and you won’t get medals or applause, but it’s necessary. When it hits the fan, you’ll be happy you did. How do you plan? You do some thinking and create a simple document that goes along the lines of: When ‘this’ happens, we tell this person and this person will do this and say this via this channel by this time.


Here are some steps and questions to work through in the planning phase:

Scenario planning

What are the main issues your business could face and what’s your plan for handling them? It’s important to identify hot spots specifically related to your type of work or industry. Gather your team and brainstorm issues that include operations, human resources, marketing, finance and customer service, and reference both physical world and digital world situations and effects. Workshop this over a couple of hours and write up the notes with basic actions you’ll take. Prioritise the scenarios or issues in terms of their importance and relevance. Also think about the levels of escalation. What happens when an issue goes from just one or two comments or tweets to 10 or 100 – or a couple of thousand? What benchmarks or levels will you set to determine whether an issue moves from low priority to high priority?

The full article appears in the September-October 2014 issue of the Wine & Viticulture Journal. To ensure your copy, visit www.winebiz.com.au/wvj/subscribe/





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