The Outlook Social Media Awards recently faced the ire of social media activists and influencers due to an unsolicited ‘hack’ involving the twitter app for online voting. Here’s a look through the sequence of events and some handy tips for brands on crisis management.
If you have a good network of Social Media Professionals online, you must have observed Outlook Social Media Awards splurging on your timelines with a call to action for voting for OSM individuals of the year. Positioned as the first of its kind awards concept to honour social media superstars in India, Outlook Social Media Awards (OSM Awards) as they call it managed to gain a good amount of traction in the social media circles owing to the format of public voting online.
#SocialFsckup ‘Hack’ Detour
The smooth journey for Outlook Social Media Awards turned into a roller coaster ride with a ‘hack’ on the Twitter App meant for authorising online votes. The hack triggered a flurry of tweets from voters’ accounts with #SocialFsckup and #ArmChairMorons
Image Source - Nikhil Narayanan on Twitter
The active twitteratis were quick enough to spot the automated spam tweets and as usual some of them took up to the forum for questioning Outlook and their intent.
There were quite a lot of good samaritans who took up the onus to help the compromised accounts and Outlook as well.
Arrogance and neglect on the bumpy ride?
As #SocialFsckup started trending, the heat from compromised accounts started pouring in. While the ideal approach for Outlook team should have centered around humility and composure, few of their representatives took the aerial route to contest the ire of activists and influencers alike.
If you look at the conversations above, the tone and tenor from outlook employees is a paradox to what the brand stands for.
The Outlook brand rides on strong ethos and credibility which went for a toss in the heat of the moment. The reaction from activists, influencers, and voters was natural since their accounts were compromised, the Outlook brand handle could have stepped up and cleared the air with a humble apology and personalised responses to criticism. This would have helped in burying the hatchet. The Brand responded to the situation with this note, but the crisis could have been averted with a stitch in time.
Listen, assess & act, and evangelize
Social Media Crisis calls for due diligence and a well drafted plan of action. Brands and businesses cannot foresee crisis but they should always have step by step procedure to follow in case shit hits the fan. In this case there are multiple stakeholders involved i.e nominees for OSM Awards, voters for OSM Awards, Influencers and activists from the social media fraternity, the esteemed jury which lends in their credibility towards the property.
#1 - Listen to what stakeholders are talking about the issue at hand. The listening process should be followed with categorisation of sentiments into several buckets. The buckets can be as simple as positive, negative, and neutral. In this case the conversations can be broadly categorised into -
- Folks who are questioning / criticising Outlook for the fiasco
- Good Samaritans creating awareness about revoking access
- Industry people suggesting the next course of action for Outlook
#2- Assess and Act the degree of potential reach for each of these buckets and draft the first response keeping in mind the damage that has been done. As mentioned above, the response should cater to almost all the stakeholders involved and the tone should be humble and apologetic. While this is important, personalised responses towards each of the buckets will definitely help your brand drive through your statement.
For #SocialFsckup specifically, amongst the folks questioning/criticising outlook the brand could have identified the ones which have a high reach and responded to them with the intent of cooling things down. Even if Outlook feels that it's a glitch at Twitter’s end the response can be worded much better.
The ones who were creating awareness about revoking access, Outlook could have retweeted the ones with maximum retweets and quoted it saying
While our tech team works on fixing this please follow these steps to safeguard your account. We will make sure this never happens again!
The third set of people who had wisdom/advice to share could have been taken seriously and gratified with a kind response like
Thank you for your suggestions, we would definitely work on this to make things better. We really appreciate your support through these tough times.
#3 Evangelize - When crisis hits the floor, whatever your brand does is not enough. It takes a considerable amount of time for things to cool down. When you have cleared your brand’s stance on the issue, let your evangelists amplify your message to the one’s aggrieved. Your evangelists could be your employees, the people who fall into the positive/neutral buckets, influencers from the industry who understand the depth of the situation and are willing to help.
Outlook as a brand has a great lineage and credibility, once the brand’s stance was put out on Twitter. The employees who were tagged in conversations could have aligned their communication accordingly. At the same time, conversations with the folks who had a positive to neutral tone could have been retweeted to affirm the brand’s stand.
The #SocialFsckup involving the compromise of Twitter Accounts highlights some grave concerns about the security of Twitter Apps seeking authorization from users. A lesson for denizens to ensure that they don't give out read and write access to apps without due diligence.
The tech team at Outlook could have been proactive with regards to security measures for the app. Again, you cant foresee windows which can be compromised but consistent monitoring could have helped them seize the situation before things went out of hand. The OSM Awards team, the amount of hard work and efforts that have gone in raising this property are commendable. Don't let the heat of the moment affect the resolve to build this entity, but in all circumstances do stick to humility.
The hind side, Outlook Social Media Awards has received attention from the nooks and corners of the industry, leaving an opportunity to engage with the audiences that matter. It would be interesting to see how OSM makes it more awesome.