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How Brands can use Social Media for Crisis Management

Meghan Reilly

Just a few weeks ago, I received an unexpected call from Citibank. I was informed that unusual online purchases were being made from my account; I was a victim of identity theft.

Prior to the call, I had just finished sending out a media pitch on “The ‘Online Fraud Tsunami’ – Why Citibank’s Another Victim.” How ironic.

The Citibank hack followed several other high-profile attacks against large corporations, including Sony’s PlayStation Network, Google and Epsilon. Fraudsters hacked into Citibank’s computers, stealing customer’s names, account numbers and contact information. The fraudulent charges on my credit card were a result of this data breach.

Impact of Twitter

Like many other Citibank victims, I turned to Twitter to relieve some frustration. I composed a tweet about the fraudulent purchases on my credit card, and also mentioned my disappointment with Citibank’s fraud prevention efforts. Ten minutes later, I received a mention from @AskCiti, the official Twitter ID for Citi Customer Service:

“@MeghanReilly314, Saw ur tweet re: fraud & I’d like to ensure everything is being handled. Pls DM ur ph# & best time to talk.”

I was pleasantly surprised that Citibank was managing Twitter as a customer service and crisis management tool. This tweet immediately changed my perception of Citibank, as well as how I felt about the identity theft I experienced from their data breach. I was confident that everything would work out and Citibank had the attack under control.

Actively Monitor Social Media

Monitoring social media outlets are an essential tool for companies to effectively communicate with their customers. The messages and conversations a brand distributes have a huge impact on how their image is perceived by consumers, especially during a crisis.

Social media allows consumer opinions to spread like wildfire. Although Twitter messages must be composed in 140 characters or less, tweets are easily searchable. Businesses can be followed on twitter by customers, potential customers and even competitors. By actively monitoring Twitter mentions, brands can quickly respond to negative comments and reverse their image into a positive one.  Message dispersion via social media can really enhance a brands image and turn unsatisfied shoppers into loyal customers.

Companies have the ability to change an unhappy customer into a satisfied brand advocate – just like my experience with Citibank. Their effective crisis control demonstrated the importance of businesses to actively monitor their brand’s reputation via social media.