Trump Tweets – Tips from Social Media Experts
When Donald Trump, the President of the United States tweets about your brand, millions of his followers see it, and then they retweet it. Whether it’s a positive or negative mention, the media picks up on it, extending its shelf life and giving it legs to be the headlining story of the day or week.
So far, Mondelez International, Boeing, General Motors, L.L. Bean, Ford, Skittles, New Balance, Uber and others have found themselves in a mixture of both positive and negative messages in tweets from President Trump. These mentions don’t always carry potential for a full on crisis, but, as with any social media crisis management strategy, you need to be fully prepared to get ahead of any situation before it escalates into a crisis.
Twitter is President Trump’s primary source of direct communication, which may even increase social media engagement across the board – meaning brands need to be monitoring, alert and ready to act on social media, now more than ever.
So how should brands react if they do get a mention from the President? We spoke to some experts in social engagement and crisis communications, to find out.
Augie Ray, Customer Experience Research Director, Gartner
Don’t overreact; acknowledge concerns; promote facts; if anything wrong was done, transparently and directly say so; welcome input. Of course, the best advice is to avoid the problem in the first place. Brands must acknowledge that the world has changed and must make sure their actions and communication plans consider all outcomes and risks.
For example, it is going to be difficult for organizations to announce plant shut-downs or moves of production to other nations, however, that doesn’t mean that business leaders cannot make those decisions; they just need to understand and mitigate the risks. Smart brands will reach out and engage their elected officials before making decisions that could leave hundreds or thousands without work, and consider alternatives to layoffs. I also think the new rules would suggest greater assistance and training for displaced workers to mitigate both their pain and the brand’s PR risks. Trump may be taking a different approach to social media and business relationships than past presidents, but the fundamentals of managing reputation and mitigating risks in social media are no different now than they were before the election.
Lisa Flowers, Founder, Flowers Media Matters
Brands should be monitoring Trump’s social media profiles as well as those of his staff. Don’t overlook the Twitter profiles of whom Trump is following as well as those following him. If Trump engages your brand, don’t react – respond. Always respond. The public is watching. So, be transparent. Own up to any wrongdoings or errors.
Twitter lists are a great way to organize Twitter profiles without having to go to each individual profile. Create public (or private) lists so you can easily and quickly see recent tweets, trends, and overall conversations. Remember, you don’t have to follow everyone, but it is certainly worth putting those you want to keep track of in a Twitter list.
Organizations should have an engagement strategy as well as a crisis communications plan.
Some tips on engagement:
- Revisit your key messages.
- Do they align with your values and business practices?
- What do they look like on your website, social channels, printed material, etc.?
- How will/can your message be part of the new administration’s conversation and not a target?
Crisis communications plan:
- Who will be part of your communication team outside of the traditional communications team?
- Whom will respond, when, and how?
- Identify and discuss your pain points and worst case scenarios.
- Set guidelines and educate your staff on how to respond.
Greg Roth, VP Global Marketing, Synthesio
Look beyond the initial explosion and assess collateral damage. A single tweet from the president can potentially reach millions of followers, but when you multiply that reach by the total amount of retweets and media shares typical of a controversial message from President Trump, those 140 characters can travel from 1 million eyeballs to more than 1 billion.
Don’t just keep an eye on his tweets – follow his inner circle as well and watch his daily agenda and try to stay ahead of what he might say next. For instance, if you know he’s going to speak to an assembly of union autoworkers in Detroit, prepare yourself if you’re Ford, for example, because good or bad – his tweets are going to cause chaos up and down the organization.
The President’s tweets may have a long shelf life with wide ranging impact, but all his tweets aren’t necessarily bad for business and don’t always precipitate a crisis. Most of his tweets don’t reach the most active social media audience – Millennials.
Eric Tung, Director, Digital Communications, GoTo Marketers
In many cases, a tweet from the president has been enough to move financial markets and sway stock prices. In the case of a Trump Tweet, there are many ways that a company may choose to respond.
In response to a negative tweet a company might: 1) Correct incorrect information. For example, Ford Motor Company was called out for moving manufacturing to Mexico, when the reality was that the long-term strategy had been to move small vehicle manufacturing to make availability to produce larger vehicles in the US. The company attempted to correct the record, before giving in to pressure and canceling the Mexico project altogether.
In response to positive tweets, you may still remain quiet. Linda Bean, one of LL Bean’s board members, was thanked by the president on Twitter, leading to the discovery that she donated $60,000 to a pro-Trump political action committee. Some called for a boycott of the company, prompting a response from the company. Grab Your Wallet co-founder Shannon Coulter responded to LL Bean’s statement on Twitter. “Instead of carefully crafted PR statements, maybe your energy [would be] better spent looking at whether Linda’s support of divisive figures [and] groups is worth the inevitable damage to your brand [and] bottom line such activities will have,” she wrote. “In the meantime, I’ll shop elsewhere.”
At a time when the president’s approval ratings are in the 30%’s and disapproval ratings are near 50%, it may be ok to correct the record, but in most cases, it may pay off to remain quiet.
To learn more about crisis management, download our complete guide: Plan For Your Next Crisis With Social Intelligence.