Make the most out of your shitstorm

Shitstorm done right by adoptr

Make the most of your shitstorm

Look, we’ve all been there – producing a shitstorm by an action gone wrong. Phrasing a statement the wrong way, posting the wrong thing on social media, or simply an enemy wanting to get to us.

What follows is always similar: the executive board demands explanations and the public needs to be put right. So far, so good. But how can you use the shitstorm to your advantage? Make the most of it and gain positive media traction?

There are a couple of hints and tricks, most of them we have tested and can confirm!

Buzzword or ancient phenomenon?

First things first: the word “shitstorm” is relatively new and has been known in Wikipedia since 2011, so more or less when the high-time of the world-wide-web and social media started. Prior to this, shitstorms were of course known, though through other circumstances. As social media was not yet such a huge topic, companies were mostly criticized in discussion forums and other group pages of the WWW.

Dell’s Flamewar

A great example for a “Flamewar” happened in 2005, where blogger Jeff Jarvis was upset about Dell’s customer service and wrote an angry post about it on his private website. This blog post was shared by hundreds of other bloggers, which resulted in a loss of reputation and even Dell’s market price declined massively! Following this event, Dell built a social-media strategy worth 150 Mio. US$ and started a company-blog and succeeded in turning the negative shitstorm into a positive outcome!

Shitstorm prevention

Let’s be honest: a shitstorm may not be the end of the world (though for Nestlé and it’s KitKat and palm oil disaster it almost turned out to be one!), but it does make sense to take up some preventative measures.

  • Build a trustworthy corporate identity: depending on the industry you’re in, take measures for sustainability and stay away from child labour. Both of which should be obvious.
  • Communication is key. Make sure to stay in regular contact with colleagues, but also customers and be aware of any social media interaction regarding your product or company.
  • Be prepared for the worst case. Have internal notifications prepared or prepare them in case you release a new product or anything that could cause uprise.

First aid for shitstorms

So, none of the above-mentioned measures helped and you ended up in a shitstorm nevertheless. We have prepared ten first aid actions for you to survive the storm!

  • Social media and internet monitoring: you need a system in place where you monitor and react asap in case of anything gone wrong! There are some tools which can help you, especially when you work in more than one time zone.
  • Which leads us the number 2: reaction time must be extremely fast! In most cases a reaction is required within hours and even the most complex issues must be dealt with within a day or two. This guarantees, that the avalanche of negative messages does not spread too far and people rage because they do not receive a reply.
  • Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer! Stay in close contact with your enemies and harshest critics and reply heartfelt and not with a standard message.
  • Sorry seems to be the hardest word. But sometimes the most effective one. Apologize to your customers or your employees. Sounds hard, which it will be, but this will leave room to deal with the actual storm.

Shitstorm prevention by adoptr

Now we’ve given you four tactics already. Curios what else there is? Simple as that: join us for one of our talks on “Managing your shitstorm”! We’ll go into detail and provide some hands-on training.

Stay tuned and follow us on LinkedIn, Instagram or Xing for dates and locations! If you would like to hear more about this in person – easy. Drop us a line and we’ll be happy to get in touch and arrange something!