With the inauguration a day away, brands are grappling with a new challenge – an incoming US president who takes a no-holds-barred approach to tweeting.
President-Elect Donald Trump’s tweets are having drastic effects on companies. A mere mention is enough to influence the world economy.
“Pretty much everybody is dreading being the subject of a tweet. Getting hauled out into the court of public opinion with virtually no warning is not something anybody wants to get engaged with,” Kristin Dziczek, a spokeswoman for the Center for Automotive Research, told The Guardian.
Last week, L.L. Bean discovered that even positive mentions by Trump can make life difficult for them. According to Adweek:
In a tweet thanking L.L.Bean heiress Linda Bean—granddaughter of founder Leon Leonwood Bean—for her support, President-elect Donald Trump told his Twitter followers to “buy L.L.Bean.” He also linked to a small newsletter account run under Linda Bean’s name.
L.L. Bean did not welcome the attention; the company’s CEO, Shawn Gorman, took to Facebook to respond to the nascent boycott campaign started by Grab Your Wallet. He calmly pointed out that a single board member named Bean does not represent the entire company.
We were disappointed to learn that Grab Your Wallet is advocating a boycott against L.L.Bean solely because Linda Bean, who is only one of 50+ family members involved with the business, personally supported Donald Trump for President.
Gorman’s (longer form) reply does a great job of countering the proposed boycott without rehashing the original tweet. By moving the discussion to Facebook, Gorman can respond without adding fuel to the fire on Twitter – Trump’s network of choice.
Preparing for a Trump Tweet
Now is the time for brands to prime for the President’s focus.
Verify relevant Twitter accounts: It only takes a few minutes to apply for Twitter account verification, but it can take a few days to receive the blue checkmark. Act now to verify a brand’s Twitter account to ensure any Trump tweets will mention the correct (official) company account. Having verification is also important for brand authority should the company choose to respond via Twitter.
Build a response team: While contingency plans should be a part of all major upcoming announcements, it will be difficult to create formulaic proposed responses in advance. A personality as big as Trump’s needs multiple eyes and ears ready to respond. Identify key stakeholders for consultation following a mention.
Put monitoring tools in place: Even a simple and affordable tool such as HootSuite allows for push notifications for Twitter mentions. Given the 24/7 news cycle and Trump’s proclivity for late-night tweets, around-the-clock monitoring is a necessity. If your brand finds itself in focus too often, a more robust monitoring system may be needed – Zignal Labs and SalesForce Social Studio are both excellent solutions we’ve used on behalf of clients recently in the Trump spotlight.
Draft a workflow: A quick response time is essential. “The only thing that applies, no matter what the issue, is speed,” said Scott Farrell, an expert in crisis management and the president of Golin Corporate Communications. “Slow kills companies fast in a Twitter conversation.” Both positive and negative tweets will likely necessitate a response and damage control. Streamline your plan to get an authoritative statement prepped for release quickly. Plan for a response within the first 2-3 hours, not days.
When you’re in terra incognita, preparation is your best armor.