Crisis Adverted!

Twitter. One of the best websites to communicate with your audience and one of the best ways to get roasted by your audience. Social media has greatly increased the number of crises that happen and companies have fallen victim to Twitter fails. Shields explains in Chapter 8 “Managing Crisis in Social Media” that these crises can happen either online or offline. Online refers to the company tweeting an embarrassing or offensive tweet, or when a customer complains about a product. The example of Red Cross that Shields uses is the perfect example of an online crisis since it was caused by its social media presence. An offline crisis deals with outside forces influence social media and causes controversy. One example that Shields uses is when British music retailer HMV laid off a significant amount of their employees and some employees were complaining on Twitter, raising controversy. Companies need to react to tweets to keep their brand and public image positive. But how would a company even respond to these complaints without causing their image to come under fire? Before discussing how to respond to these crises, we need to examine the different types of crises there are.

Three ways for trouble

Shields explains that the three types of crises are victim, accident, and preventable. Victim crisis are not caused by the organization, but by external forces. These crises are relatively easy to handle if the social media team is communicative with their angry customers and keep up efforts to fix problems. An example of this would be when gamers were furious with Microsoft because hackers DDOS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacked the live services, not allowing gamers to play with their friends online. Gamers raged at Microsoft on Twitter, being disappointed that they cannot control their own services. Keeping a level head, Microsoft responded to complaints and continued to work on the issue and the live services were back up within a couple of hours. Who knew that people will be extremely angry for having their online services denied for about 4 hours.

An accident crisis is when an organization is involved in a bad situation but fully responsible for it. Samsung demonstrated this when the Galaxy Note 7 kept catching fire unexpectedly. The company was getting the full blame for the situation until Samsung explained how the second battery from a different manufacturer caused the fires. This helped shape the perception of the crisis to the manufacturer, causing many angry tweeters to target the other manufacturer instead of Samsung. What a heated situation, right? (I know it’s a bad pun)

The final crises are the preventable crises, a crisis that could have been easily avoided. Displayed below is a tweet by Chrysler Autos.



Ouch. That is a pretty bad tweet and could have easily been avoided if the person thought about the consequences before sending. Any bad tweet you can think of is probably a preventable crisis, and companies still fall prey to these types of ordeals.

So how does a company respond to these social media crises? Well, I researched companies that successfully dealt with crises and the best one I found is Wendy’s.

A Tasty Roasting

Crises are inevitable but some are not terrible to a company. Shields states that “Because everyone has a voice and messages can spread rapidly and unchecked, what audience perceives as the reality is often the challenge to address first and foremost.” Wendy’s took this quote to heart and recognized that their crisis could easily turn in their favor. Goals on responding to a crisis consist of shifting perception and sharing your voice, directing audiences to a specific action, and improving brand health. You need to think about your audience, platform, brand, and content when responding. Let’s look at how Wendy’s responded to a crisis that could have easily harmed its image.



Thuggy -D (what a name!) was being a real jerk to Wendys, complaining how its beef is frozen. Wendy’s used a traditional response to silence him but he did not let up. To resolve this, Wendy’s thought about the major components of responding to a social media crisis. It knew that the audience consists of a younger generation who thinks sassy and roasting comments are hilarious. Since this happened on Twitter, Wendy’s knew that this is the perfect platform to use roasting comments to get their message across. It used the Wendy’s brand itself to be less format then using a CEO or a marketing manager to seem more funny. The content Wendy’s used focused more on reducing the offensiveness of the event. Wendy’s did not need to apologize or deny any allegations since the company used facts to correct Thuggy-D. Reducing the offensiveness would help show Wendy’s knows about the fresh beef industry and will not take any snarky remarks. The format and tone Wendy’s used is very sassy and upfront text to provide the perfect roast of the customer.

You would think this response would hurt the company image but it improved it! People noticed these hilarious tweets and partake in the roasting. The distribution of tweets by Wendys were swift and straightforward, diffusing the crisis cause by Thuggy-D and improving brand health. Now I am not saying companies should start roasting their customers but they should take notice how Wendy’s successfully dealt with a crisis. Keeping a level head and thinking about audience can make any company survive a crisis and ultimately improve their image.


Too damn good. Bravo Wendy’s. Bravo.



One thought on “Crisis Adverted!

  1. I really like your post and found it really interesting. I agree that Wendy’s has had one of the best Twitter handles recently. It’s good to see some personality and humor come out of such a large organization’s social media, because it makes them more personable and people can connect with them easily. As for the social media fails, I think you’re right that people and organizations need to be extra careful when it comes to what they post. In today’s world it’s extremely hard, if not impossible, for a bad or offensive tweet to go unnoticed by someone. There needs to be safeguards in place so that an organization isn’t on the wrong side of things like Chrysler was in your example.


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