GM Crisis Raises Digital Literacy Stakes


As we’re seeing in the case of GM’s ignition switch recall crisis, social media can accelerate the demise of corporate reputation.

Though she’s not on Twitter herself, their customer engagement chief Alicia Boler-Davis spoke this week about the critical importance of talking directly to customers via social networks.

GM is trying to centralize crisis communications on Twitter through their CEO Mary Barra and other branded accounts. Unfortunately, those aren’t the voices people care about right now, because it’s their employees, customers and angry US citizens who are hurling insults and accusations faster then GM’s officially sanctioned Twitter accounts can reply to.

Pay close attention to this one. Because herein lies the rub of social media marketing:
Handling communications through official, brand accounts is only half the battle. Why? Because 73% of employees use social media daily, they’re more trusted then the CEO and 1 in 5 consider themselves employee activists.

So it’s no longer a question of “if” but “when” regular employees are seen as speaking on behalf of your organization online, whether they’ve been given that authority or not.

In this environment, it doesn’t matter how clever your social media marketing team is. What matters is how well you’ve invested in and prepared your regular employees to serve as goodwill ambassadors online.

In the old days, we media trained our official spokespeople. Today, we need to social media train the whole company. And not just in “how to” but “how not to” use social media as well.

That’s what I’m focused on: managing social media risk at scale.  We’ve created a methodology and deployed as productized approach.  Please LMK if you’d like to have a look.