Module #11 – Dealing with crisis using social media.

The Issue:

In early March General Motors (GM) issues a recall of 1.6 million cars due to a faulty ignition switch that can turn off the engine and disable the air bags on select GM models. GM sent two recall letters to customers and service bulletins to GM dealerships throughout Canada and the United States. The faulty ignition switch has been understocked at dealerships across North America and it has been difficult to get the cars repaired even though it is only a $0.57 cost associated with the part. Since the recall 13 deaths have been associated with the faulty ignition switch and GM has struggled with communicating to customers that the vehicles are safe to drive if all other keys and heavy keychains are removed from the key ring.

For more information on the recall and safety issues: CBC – GM recall linked to 57-cent ignition switch component.

What is GM doing right in social media?

  1. Responding to customer inquiries, concerns and complaints on Facebook and Twitter and trying to guide the conversation to a private message to find the best solution for individual customers.
  2. Continuing with regular posts in social media channels by talking about new products and awards in an effort not to let the crisis define their entire business.
  3. Responding to customers when customers use the comments section of a non-crisis related post to voice concerns and ask questions. They are not trying to”white-wash” their social media channels to act as though the crisis has not occurred.
  4. GM Released a video of their Chief discussing the recall – the video was transparent, open and sympathetic to the issues.

What else could GM do in social media?

  1. Users in social media respond to video and images over text posts. This could be an opportunity for GM to create a short video demonstrating how customers can safely operate their vehicles while they wait for the part to be available to repair the issue. This video could be shared on Facebook and Twitter. This could be one of a series of videos that presents information about the recall, additional production lines and other important information. It might be useful to feature regular employees who work in assembly and safety divisions of GM to make the videos more relatable.
  2. In a crisis like this where lives have been lost and there are delays in getting the parts in to fix the recalled ignition switch GM, need to be very careful to ensure that they are sympathetic and respectful at all times. GM could use social media to reiterate its commitment to customer safety by telling customers about the vehicle safety inspection processes and putting an action plan in place to be more diligent in future vehicle production runs.
  3. Continue to respond to customer complaints and concerns on social media in a timely, transparent and helpful manner. It is important that GM keep a low profile while still continuing to do business as usual and respond to customer needs.
  4. The company could launch a “GM Cares” initiative on social media using hashtag #GMCARES that tells customers when the new ignition switches will be available in their area and how they can get their vehicle repaired in a timely manner at their local dealer. If this is executed properly and things go well it is likely that customers who have been satisfied with customer service received from GM will pick up the hashtag and use it to share stories of good responses and positive experiences. This could be a positive way to get the message out to customers on social media.

This is a sensitive situation that needs to be handled with sensitivity and humility. Too large of a response on social media could be perceived as insensitive to the risk to passenger safety and to lives that have already been lost. I think that the most important thing at this stage of the situation is that GM be open, transparent and responsive to customer needs. Once the recall has been resolved and the impacted models are repaired GM will be able to start to move on and rebuild their reputation as it relates to safety. I think that they are on the right track by trying to continue to make regular posts about other GM content. This will help shift the focus as the public starts to move on.



Module #1 – First Impressions

Welcome to my blog. This isn’t my first attempt at a blog but the difference this time is that I have you all to check in and read it…haha. I am a digital Communications Specialist at the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation (NSLC) and I spend most of my day crafting posts for Facebook and Twitter, writing web content, and coming up with new content features for our employee intranet. I started my career in Communications through and on role in IT and I am taking this course as part of the Public Relations Certificate to sharpen my skills in my field.

This week’s reading provided a comprehensive overview of social media and what it can offer to PR programs and brand marketing. The stand out message for me this week was this image from the Demystifying social media post.

Exhibit 4 pillars of SM

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My organization has spent a lot of time monitoring conversation to help us develop a good social media strategy that will reach our target audiences. In the absence of a strategy we have also found ourselves in many situations where we have had to respond to crisis situations via social media because we didn’t have a proactive plan in place. I really like this image because it quickly depicts the primary functions of social media platforms.

Last year we finished developing a combined PR and Marketing social media strategy and we are finally starting to see hoe social media can amplify the conversation and lead user engagement with our target audiences.

In addition, another challenge that came up in the readings for week one that resonated with me was making sure that organizations chose the right platform to reach their desired target audiences. It is tempting to get involved in many social media platforms as you can in order to reach as many potential customers as possible. It’s important to identify what audiences the organization is trying to reach and to do the research to figure out what social media platforms those target audiences are engaging in and develop the right content to communicate your message.

Module #2 – Twitter Advertising Programs

Twitter offers three key promotional tactics to help businesses advertise their products, gain followers and promote their brand to potential customers. Programs are offered at various costs and can help businesses meet their strategic objectives in this social space.

Promoted Tweets: These are tweets that are promoted by your business using keywords. The use of key words allows business to target their promoted tweets to users who search for specific words, tweet words that are related to the businesses brand and to target users based on similar brands that they follow on Twitter.  Promoted tweets are purchased on a CPE (Cost Per Engagement) basis so organizations only pay when users click, retweet, reply or favourite a promoted tweet. Organizations bid on the price that they are willing to pay per engagement and the cost is generally as low as 25 cents each.

Arby's Promoted Tweet

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Promoted Trends: Promoted trends are an exclusive purchase that will put a company’s trend topic at the top of the Twitter Trend Topics list on the home page for every Twitter user to see. Twitter user research indicates that users come back to the Twitter home page several times per day to view the list of trend topics so this can be a prime location to help a business amplify the conversations about their products and related topics. Promoted trends are based on a flat fee and can range upwards of thousands of dollars. This is an expensive options that can provide excellent exposure for businesses looking to reach new customers and

Twitter Promoted Trend

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Promoted Accounts: Companies can use this option to target customers who live near their business, follow similar business on Twitter, and tweet about topics relevant to their brand. Then an account is promoted on Twitter in the “Who to Follow” section of interest targeted users. Promoting your company’s Twitter account can help build loyal and engaged followers of your brand. The cost for promoted accounts if based on a CPF (Cost Per Follow) model in which bidders bid 50 cents to $5 and are only charged when new followers are gained.

Twitter who to follow

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Can Twitter Advertising Programs help your Public Relations Program?

Twitter advertising options can help businesses reach their strategic objectives on Twitter by gaining followers, increasing engagement such as re-tweets and increasing brand loyalty. There seems to be a cost effective option available for all types of organizations and there is an option to set your budget so that you do not exceed your budget. From and ROI perspective it is simple to gauge whether the investment has been worth it. You can easily see if Twitter advertising programs have allowed your business to reach new customers, increase engagement through content, and gain loyal followers; Twitter allows you to track your results in real time. There are also a number of tactics employed within the three programs discussed above to help you reach your target group including keywords on search, interest targeting, @username targeting and geo-targeting to make sure you are reaching potential customers that are located within the reach of your company’s services.

If you’re looking for more information before you make a decision on whether or not Twitter programs will benefit your business, check out Twitter’s Success Stories to see how companies of all sizes used these programs to increase their presence in this social platform.

Module #4 – Visualization in PR Programs

I work in digital communications for the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation (NSLC) and in my role I am responsible for curating and creating content for multiple online channels including including our website, Facebook and Twitter presence. Content really is king – it’s what keeps people coming back . Increasingly this content includes images, videos and info graphics to help tell our story because they drive better sharing and engagement than text-only posts and messages.

If you go to Google and search for an infographic on any given topic, I am sure you will come back with dozens of images that tell a story about what you are interested in.  I am also sure that some of them will be clear, concise and informative and others will be completely useless. The info graphics that I chose to illustrate content strategy each communicate specific elements of content strategy but none of them alone is enough to provide the complete story.

Image #1: Social Content Strategy Cheeseburger Style

Cheeseburger II

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I chose this info graphic because it does a good job of hitting the key points of developing a social content strategy. The message concentrates on the strategy elements that are required to ensure that the content you develop is well planned, tailored to reach your intended audience and that it specks to them in a tone that they will respond to and keep them coming back for more. This image does a good job of outlining the key elements of strategy but it it doesn’t touch on how to execute on that strategy once it is in place. I also thought that the cheeseburger analogy was a bit of a stretch when comparing the layers of a burger to the layers required for a good content strategy. On the plus side it was simple, easy to follow and jam packed with useful information.

Image #2: Content Lifecycle

Content-Life-Cycle-Infographic II

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I chose this image because it is all about the content. As a stand alone image, this infographic doesn’t tell you how to develop a content strategy, but once you  have one in place is does a good job of communicating what to do about gathering, creating and sharing useful content with your audience(s).

This infographic touches on a few  key points from this week’s reading including the process of gathering content and curating it into topics and themes that are relevant and appealing to specific audiences. I liked that this info graphic touches on keyword rich content because making sure that you audience can find your content is one of the most important factors for success. Awesome content is useless if your audience can’t find it. The final step in this infographic, Publish & Share, ties it all together and highlights the multiple ways to make sure your content is available to your audience when and where they expect to see it. This step also emphasizes that importance of sharing and recycling to make sure that content has a wide reach.

This infographic delivers a lot of information and although the content is relevant and useful in terms of what I was looking for, I also found it visually busy and text-heavy. It felt like a bit of an investment to see it through from start to finish to get the entire message.

Image #3: Add Variety to your Content Strategy.

Candy Store II

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I initially chose this infographic because the bright colours caught my eye not necessarily because of the quality of information presented. As a stand alone image this infographic this image is light on strategy development but heavy on that tactics that would be used to execute on an existing strategy. As a criticism I would say that this infographic very general and you need to understand your own strategy before you can pick out the useful pieces of information that this infographic has to offer. The information presented in step three is all about tactics for getting your content out there and it does a good job of outlining the options and providing statistics that illustrate the uses and advantages of each tactic. Overall I think this image is great for understanding the various ways to publish and share content but it lacks any strategy elements that would help you determine if your content will help you meet your goals.