All because of one tweet containing one word.
First Lasco’s Twitter account last night sent a homophobic tweet directed at Olympic gold medallist Omar McLeod. Second they claimed the account had been hacked. Third, amid a firestorm of social media backlash, they sent another apology (see above) this time acknowledging and sacking the employee responsible. Their chairman Lascelles Chin then appeared on radio this morning to apologise further.
From my experience (and yes mistakes) working for, consulting and training Jamaican companies I’m only surprised something this “OH SHIT!” never happened sooner. Surprised because few companies have taken digital seriously to prevent such a thing happening. Once we get over cussing out Lasco, and for those of us whose job it is to do better, here’s some steps to prevention:
- Should your brand even be on social? This is a real question: Apple doesn’t even have social media accounts for some of its main products (Mac and iPhone) so why should you, seriously? And can you actually provide a value proposition to your customers rather than retweeting photos of oxtail lunches – if the answer is “Yes” then please proceed to 2.
- Who is managing your social accounts? Agencies especially where you lack capacity can be a solution. But do due diligence. Having once been in a position at Digicel Group where I had to pick through proposals from across the Caribbean there are some agencies (local and those claiming ‘foreign expertise’) I wouldn’t touch with a pick stick. So for instance, if you’re paying someone to do Google ADS then be entitled to ask if they’re Google-certified.
- Don’t do it in isolation. Social media is now a brand’s primary way to communicate (unfiltered) with the public – the JLP applied this well in the last election to clearly define their campaign and also, credit due, Portia sent a strong tweet apparently in response to this Lasco thing. You need a crisis management plan that everyone has contributed to, beginning with Point #1: don’t deny or lay blame – make your first apology in the realest way possible, and then some.
- Give guidance. Because what do you expect if you don’t? But as ever with social, less is more so you’ll probably find that creating handbooks packed with rules isn’t as practical as having a simple set of guidelines that empower rather than constrict your social presence. Things like Tone of Voice and Buyer Persona charts are simple to create and easy for people to follow.
- Social management tools like Hootsuite remove the need to share passwords/logins; give people varying levels of access; track what they do; and provide an approval workflow – whether for content produced in advance or real-time replies.
- Train again and again. Only snake oil salesmen, or this guy, claim to be ‘gurus’ about something that changes as fast as social media. Besides social is also humbly about listening and collaboration. So just as I’d welcome you to come to my next social media strategy workshop at CARIMAC [scroll down for info] the fact is that all of us need to keep re-training. Same reason why I’m going to Mashable’s Social Good Summit next month: We. Need. To. Keep. Learning. Always.
- Another point about training: diversity. I was proud to have played a role in founding Respect Jamaica and in doing so had to recognise that we still have a long way to go in our workplaces in recognising ALL forms of discrimination. It was great to see so many corporates sign up to support the programme but reality is that within local companies discrimination and harassment too often gets whitewashed.
*Workshop includes crisis management scenarios. This year’s third edition of the workshop is being held on consecutive Saturdays: September 24 and October 1. To register contact Sue-Ellen Pingue: firstname.lastname@example.org or 927-1481