What would you do if you discovered your site had been hacked and your community’s data had been compromised? Would you hide and hope the situation would quietly fade away? Let users find out about the issues themselves on social networks? Or proactively inform your users?

It’s hard to believe how many organizations might opt for – or at least consider – the first two options.

With the speed of social media, we all know how quickly issues can turn into full-blown crises if not dealt with immediately and honestly.

And social media platform Buffer chose the proactive approach to deal with the crisis they faced on the weekend when they found a security breach on the site.

This week, we discuss some of the things Buffer did to fix the situation and restore their customer’s trust and the company’s reputation. Their approach is almost a case study in best practices in crisis communications 2.0

Here’s a recap of their actions:

– Buffer apologized and took responsibility early and often. They assumed a leadership role.
– They didn’t make excuses.
– They informed people about the situation with regular emails and posts.
– They spoke candidly about what happened, what they’re doing to correct things and what users needed to do.
– The communicated back to customers often, issuing ongoing updates and status alerts and using email, their blog, Facebook and Twitter.
– They were transparent.
– When things were fixed, they provided instructions about what to do to get reconnected.
– They continued to issue genuine apologies.
– They were focused, well organized and first and foremost paid attention to the needs of their users.

From many of the comments on their blog, it seems as if customers appreciated their honesty and straightforward approach.

What do you think? Are you a Buffer user? How do you think they handled the crisis? Would you have anything else to suggest?

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Comments

  1. I am an Italian PR professional, engaged in Global Alliance.
    I love to listen to your podcast every week. Last year I have been running under a major crisis due to an earthquake here in Italy.
    Beside traditional media – in particular radio in the immediate post-earthquake – Social Networks have been a strategic tool & space which have been used by local authorities & also some companies to send out messages to their stakeholders (population, employees, families, customers, etc.) but, more than that, social networks were crucial to listen to those stakeholders and to have a perception of the sentiments among them in such a challenging time.
    We are now studying some case histories with other professionals and researchers to try to find out some good practices of communication during environmental crisis.

  2. Martin Author

    Thanks for your thoughts, Biagio. It’s interesting how important radio can be in a crisis and I wonder if sometimes we overlook it. In many ways, it’s like a social network in that it can be used effectively for two-way communications.

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