Tiger Woods, Brand Crisis and Social Media

Tiger Woods is my hero. I always watch him play golf with great admiration and have been inspired by his ability to bounce back into the game from seemingly hopeless situation, and then go on to win the title. Though it is painful to note the situation Tiger Woods is in, I am sure that he will bounce back the way he has done on countless occasions on the golf course.

But objective of this post is not to discuss about Tiger Woods as a person. What I want to highlight is how the Tiger Woods “brand” crisis has played out in “social media” and its impact. Tiger Woods’ story has dominated Social Media right from the moment news broke about his car accident. Most of us learnt about this accident and much more from Social Media and this has generated a lot of negative publicity for Tiger Woods brand in Social and Mainstream Media. So much so that sponsors who once lined up at Tiger Woods’ door are fleeing en masse (see Woods Gone From Accenture Web Site; P&G Pulling Ads and Gillette limits Tiger Woods’ role in marketing programs). The speed with which information has spread is astounding and Twitter beat established news outlets such as CNN in breaking the news.

Few other examples that come to mind while talking about Social Media brand crisis are United Airlines, Domino’s Pizza and Taco Bell.

United Airlines broke a guitar. This led to brand trashing on Social Media and the Youtube video titled United Breaks Guitars has registered more than 6.5 Million views. It is estimated that this cost the company $180 million in company valuation. (see COI: Cost of Inaction United Breaks Guitars)

In another incident of Social Media brand crisis, two employees of Domino’s Pizza filmed themselves breaking the hygiene standards in one of Domino’s Pizza store kitchen.The video was posted on YouTube and received more than one million views before it was pulled down. (see Viral Brand Crisis and Strategy). This incident received a lot of negative publicity in Mainstream and Social Media.

Taco Bell experienced Social Media brand crisis when a video of rats running around a Taco Bell’s store in New York was posted on YouTube and became an instant hit on the internet. This incident too received wide local, national and international media coverage.

All the above incidents of brand crisis underscores the importance of having a Social Media Crisis Management Plan. It should clearly highlight roles and responsibilities, procedure and protocols to be followed in the event of a brand crisis. Because the first step in solving any crisis is to identify and respond to it, and respond FAST when it comes to Social Media.

So here is a question for you. Do you have a Social Media Crisis Management Plan for your organization? If there is a crisis, will you handle it effectively or be caught napping and search for excuses? The Choice is yours!

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