My friend Paul has an addiction.
His substance of choice isn’t dangerous. In fact, it’s delightful, especially over ice.
It’s Dr. Pepper.
So imagine his horror this week when social media blew up with something that looked very much like a corporate press release, announcing that Dr. Pepper, the popular soft drink, would cease production this summer.
Fellow Peppers like my pal had what old folks in the South might call “a conniption fit.”
But it was a hoax. Dr. Pepper — in the midst of a very cool packaging partnership with the Batman vs. Superman flick, as well as its popular “Lil’ Sweet” ad campaign for its diet soda – isn’t going anywhere.
(As an aside, the “Lil’ Sweet” character bears more than a little resemblance to Prince, the recently- passed rock icon. Any reminder of the performer par excellence isn’t a bad thing these days. That, however, is another story for another time.)
But community banks can learn a great lesson from Dr. Pepper when a potential media crisis hits. The folks with the soda company used social media to literally crush the hoax, quickly and effectively, via Facebook and Twitter.
And it worked like a charm with Dr. Pepper corporate barely breaking a sweat.
So, what can banks learn from the good Doctor and elsewhere the next time a media problem threatens to water down your brand?
- Rapid Response: Dr. Pepper didn’t ignore the problem, something iconic brands sometimes have a tendency to do. The company responded quickly, yet forcefully. If your bank is confronted with a hoax, or a report that could negatively affect your brand, don’t hesitate. Act.
- The KISS method: There’s the old joke about the pastor’s wife who handed her husband a note before his first sermon before a new congregation. The note read: “KISS”. Some of the congregation beamed at the wife’s affection and encouragement for her husband, until he explained the real meaning: Keep It Short, Stupid.”
Dr. Pepper kept it short and simple: It stated it wanted to “crush the rumor” like an empty soda can and said, “The thought of Dr. Pepper ending production and selling [the] recipe is unbelievable.” (The hoaxers claimed the Dr. Pepper recipe was being sold to rival Coca-Cola).
If your bank or credit union is hit with a rumor or a negative news item, respond the way Dr. Pepper did: Unflinching, direct and short. A long press release may have raised eyebrows and prompted more speculation.
- Turn a positive into a negative. Dr. Pepper went beyond its statement to go a step further, creating a short video footage of a Dr. Pepper can being crushed, along with a hashtag: “#crushing rumors like”. Simply brilliant. Years ago, a friend covered the arrest of a community bank employee charged with embezzlement. Instead of stonewalling, the bank CEO responded with a press release, saying it was cooperating with authorities and referring to the bank’s long history of integrity, citing the rarity of such incidents in the bank’s long history.
- Use all the tools in your media toolbox. Dr. Pepper provided a lesson in media versatility in the wake of the hoax. Say for example there was a rumor of your bank being swallowed up by a big competitor. A short video showing the CEO working late at night in the office in his pajamas hits the social media feed. His wife comes in and says, “Honey, come home.” His response: “We’re not going anywhere.” The hashtag “#not going anywhere” is born. The video is humorous and makes your point.
- And last, it’s clear Dr. Pepper had a plan in the event of such social media shenanigans. We’ve talked before about the need to have a crisis media plan in place to address everything from frivolous rumors to serious disasters, natural and economic.
In small communities, the temptation may be there to think such plans aren’t needed. But remember your bank’s brand and reputation can be damaged by one rumor or other negative event. Don’t look at the world through Mayberry glasses and think that your small-town institution is immune from crisis.
Some community bankers may argue that their small bank can’t afford committing a staffer to monitor social media. However, there are three free tools to help your bank monitor your institution’s presence on a variety of social media platforms.
- HootSuite (hootsuite.com), a one-stop shop for monitoring, posting and scheduling social media activity on a number of platforms. The user-friendly tool’s free version enables one person to monitor social media profiles on up to five sites, like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+. An upgrade ($8.99 a month) gives two people access and provides greater analytics and other options.
- Social Mention (socialmention.com) allows financial institutions to search relevant company information, including the likelihood your brand is being discussed on social media related to a given topic. It’s a great, easy tool for determining whether people are talking about your brand on social media.
- Google Alerts (google.com/alerts) is an oldie but a goodie when it comes to monitoring your social media presence. Google Alerts are a great way to get started in your monitoring efforts.
There’s one word for how the Dr. Pepper team moved to protect its 131-year-old brand:
Drink up everybody. My pal Paul’s buying.
Learn more on these free tools for social media monitoring from my friends at Safe Systems: http://www.safesystems.com/blog/2013/06/3-free-tools-to-help-monitor-social-media-activity/
Be sure to LIKE, COMMENT and SHARE this post! I look forward to hearing your comments.
Here’s another helpful article on creating a social media policy :
How to Write a Social Media Policy for Your Financial Institution