A crash course in social media crisis management

Or – when a porn star stole my twitter handle and this is what I learned!

When I was young, I was a geek (in fact, I guess I still am) who grew up in a rural small town in Sweden. I played video games and spent a considerable amount of time online, dialling up through a 56 Kbps modem to connect with the world. During that time it was awesome to have nicks to hang around chat-rooms and upload sketches to deviant art. I had a new nickname almost every year.

So when I got myself a twitter handle, I conjured up a nick name as a handle. If I would join twitter today, I would use my real name as I now have a different focus then back in te days 😉

So I had this handle for a very long time. And the social media magic happened, from Neil Gaiman replying to me on twitter (my favourite author) leaving me falling off my char, having to regain my senses, and arrive late for work that morning (I’m never late for work) to all sorts of other cool things and connections happening.

So, then when a new budding porn star, sharing my first name, came up with my twitter handle as her “stage name”, my twitter feed became very overwhelming. Both in inaccurate mentions and tags in photographs the contained all kinds of acrobatic moves, by a lot of nudie ladies doing things I didn’t even know you could do.

So I went off twitter for a while, pondering what to do. I was quite tired of the nude performance art and the sea of boobies my magical place had turned in to.

I was gone for quite some time actually but kept my account as I had a lot of memories on it that I’d like to keep and I was not about to give this up so easily.

So – heres is what I did:

1/ I wrote a polite tweet:

Which didn’t stop all the mentions, but they started to subside a little and also, other “porn connoisseurs” started to correct those who tagged me on twitter.

2/ Everything inappropriate my handle was mentioned in, I reported, blocked etc. It was quite tedious work. But worth it as the more I report, block etc, people start to mention my handle less in compromising pictures containing my namesake.

3/ I started to become more active again and first off I started to send out links to my articles, to bore the hell out of all those expecting naughty links, various kinks, pictures or tweets. Instead they received a hell of a lot of marketing and strategy advice 😉

I’m still as I write this, working on the reclaiming of my twitter-handle. So it’s an ongoing work.

But I though I should share this as a tale for those of you who owns a business or represent a larger brand, that is fearful of social media and being active fully. As well as realising the full potential of social media marketing.

Modern marketing requires you to be part of the dialogue, because chances are that you already are talked about in social media by your clients and customers. So join the conversation.


So in light of my tale, of what is the worst that can happen – well for me – that was the porn star confusion with with my twitter handle. Here are my advice for businesses and brands when the shit hits the fan in social media:

1/ Customer support – in addition to your phone and email – customers today expect support through Facebook and Twitter. Assign your customer care department or someone from it, to answer queries in social media.

2/ Don’t leave questions from customers unanswered. It’s like not picking up the phone when your customers are calling. Not good.

3/ Educate your customer care staff in what to do, create a protocol or a guide that helps them in their work when critical situations arise. For example –  how to handle complaints, angry customers, critique etc.

4/ If your business and brand screw up – take ownership over what happened, apologise and rectify the situation. It’s as easy as that.

5/ Define the worst that can happen – and then you create a process and guide to deal with this. Who is responsible, what can the customer care department do, and when to involve your PR experts or even layers, if need be.

6/ Subjects and topics your brands stands for and owns. As the saying goes, if you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything. If your brand has core values, then you should be able to stand for these in social media as well, without fear of repercussions!

7/ There is a common misconception based on fear among businesses and brands that if they join social media, and/or take a stand for what their business believe in, there will be a huge backlash. Well if that’s the case – then I would recommend you to:

a) re-evaluate your brand core values, because obviously you don’t stand for them.

b) stop being so narcissistic. Just because your brand and business join social media, does not entail a huge overnight following. There is work, even for some big brands to get their customers to follow them on social media.

8/ If the shit hits the fan in other areas, per say in the press because of a lawsuit or any other larger unfortunate event. Social channels are a goldmine to respond in a clever way and own the situation and get your customers support back to your brand and business. Using social media you can turn the public around.

Let’s take Oatly as an example. Otaly produces plant based milk alternatives in various forms available in Sweden (in some other countries too now). They where sued for writing “like milk but for humans” and so fort on their own product packaging on their oat based products. Arla who is the large milk corporation in Sweden sued for misinforming the public, to pay a huge fee as well as to force Otaly to discard their packaging and products. To simplify – pay Arla shitloads of money and pouring out all the products and wasting huge quantities of food for no reason what so ever.

(This is such a textbook example of both fearful business management and an excellency in stupidity from the people responsible for Arla’s brand, communication and marketing)

Of course this made people sympathise with the small company which Oatly is, as well as – you probably guessed it – the sales of Oatly’s product went up 15-20% the weeks after the lawsuit was made public.

Nothing says free advertising and that the majority till turn in favour for a small brand, in a situation as this. You don’t have to be a PR expert to figure that out.

So – lets say that your company is effected by a out of control event, like a lawsuit or similar- your social media platforms are a place where you can have a voice and own the situation. Answer questions from concerned customers and also respond to any negativity you may receive. Sp instead having people build up something behind your back, be precent and deal with it.

Executive summary:

As your social channels are platforms for your brand and customer interaction and care, there are three things that are the absolut

1. Join the conversation and take responsibility if you screw up

2. Never leave comments unanswered or responded to

3. Your social media presence should reflect your brand and business – both in values, in what you communicate, how you respond and react to situations.