Social media increasingly affects an organization’s brand and image.
Wary of the power of social media as an outlet for public criticism, savvy leaders are trying to pre-empt negative buzz through careful preparation. When ING Bank of Canada decided to change the name of its main business unit from ING Direct to Tangerine Bank in late 2013, it figured some people might react with disdain. So it rehearsed how it would handle any online backlash from snarky critics.
Months before the name change, the bank hired a social-media consulting firm based in Vancouver, Canada, HootSuite Media, to stage a mock attack. HootSuite consultants pretended to launch a barrage of hostile posts on Facebook and Twitter lambasting the bank’s new moniker.
“We wanted to practice in advance of the game, which doesn’t often happen in social media,” says Jaime Stein, a bank executive. He instructed the consultants to be “brutal” in their posts during the drill.
“Nice redesign,” one of them typed. “I could have done that in my sleep. I’m sure you spent millions too.”
Another simply posted, “I hate it.”
Thanks to this exercise, Stein and his colleagues in the bank’s social-media department practiced how to reply to such negative messages with grace and good cheer. For instance, they parried back with playful tweets such as, “Give it a chance, it might grow on you.”
—Adapted from “Social-Media Coaches Spring Up to Combat Bad Buzz,” Lindsay Gellman, www.wsj.com.