The year 202o is largely a forgettable year for a lot of top brands and their executives, with several allegations leading to fully blown scandals due to poor management of the crisis.
It is very easy to point fingers at these brands and judge them for poor crisis management, the truth is 80% of Nigerian brands will perform worse in managing online crisis if faced with the same situation.
In my experience handling Online Crisis/Reputation Management for leading brands in Nigeria over the last 10 years, I have observed that many brand custodians cannot comfortably say all the risk issues in the attached image has been fully covered by their brands.
The pitfall of putting the cart before the horse
The challenge is that the average Nigerian Executive, while they can put financial value to others things, find it difficult to put a financial value on their “Brand”. The aforementioned makes it difficult to project the financial impact of a Crisis on their brand, and because of this many take positions in crisis that do not favour the Brand.
Secondly, the average Nigerian team member is more loyal to his superior and top management before the brand, hence when there is a crisis, many will rather protect the boss, while the name of the brand gets dragged in the mud and lose value.
I believe if we are able to put financial value to our brand and know the financial impact of the crisis on our brand (I will try to explain how you can have a fair estimation of this), we will all be able to treat our brands better this year.
Let me take the Banking industry for an example, Tier -1 banks have top management with training in leading business schools, all regulated by CBN; use the same vendors for CRM, Marketing, Strategy internal activities and social media; but their market capitalization vary. The difference between the industry’s average market capitalization and your brand is Brand Value – and this can be negative or positive.
So, if the industry average of tier 1 cap in Nigeria is N200 billion and your brand CAP is N500 billion, your brand Value is +300billion.
Hence, in all your doing, remember the brand value in financial terms and what you may lose if it gets eroded. Many brands today are in Negative Brand Value because they have the mindset of “this will soon fade away…but unfortunately it doesn’t as now it is forever documented online on social media.”
The impact of poor online crisis management can also be instant if your brand cap last week was N200 billion, but due to poor online crisis management this week, your brand cap dropped by 10% – you have lost 20billion. So, spending a lot more money on online crisis preparedness and risk mapping is needed – what you will spend will always be far less than what you will lose, if not prepared.
In time past, it was quite easy to ‘SPIN’ your crisis by spending a huge amount of money on media to push your narratives; in this day and digital age, you need to collaborate with your audience to get the desired results for your brand. The best you can achieve with using the traditional way of crisis management is to suppress the people’s voice; but by doing that, your genuine loyalists who voiced out their concerns about your current issues will only look for another brand with better values.
To effectively manage online crisis in social media, you need to “put the people first.” You also need to engage an external help to look at communications and plans, so you can speak in the language of the customer, creating the right perceptions and achieving your desired brand goal.
A single online crisis can disrupt all your brand plans for the year, don’t take chances. Planning for online crisis is like insurance, it is better you have it and not need to use it, than not have it and you need it.
What not-to-do in an online crisis
Don’t miss your golden hour – Respond appropriately in the 1st hour of crisis to dowse tension. This time makes or breaks your brand.
Don’t assume you have done it before – Every online crisis is different, a deep consumer conversation online data analysis on the issue is needed before you decide the approach to take.
Don’t speculate, lie or try to cover-up – You will be caught and the public will come for you.
Don’t be silent or try ducking the issues – Silence in crisis is counted as guilt.
All the best in the New Year.
About the writer
Sobowale Temiloluwa is a Kellogg Alumni, a Brand and Marketing Analytics specialist. He has supported over 50% of the Banking brands in Nigeria in the area of online crisis management for over 10 years. You can reach him on via firstname.lastname@example.org