What we can learn from the H&M Twitter debacle

H&M Fashion For allCompanies are increasingly under a microscope from skeptical consumers and it may be difficult to respond to every complaint, concern or grievance on social media but it would behoove you to try.

This brings me to an incident that occurred with large, fast fashion retailer H&M as they launched their first flagship store in South Africa.Where do I begin? If you aren’t familiar with the recent H&M Twitter fiasco you can read more about it here. The retail giant is facing a boycott from African and African American consumers who feel slighted. As this story circulated on my timeline, so many things came to mind.

Here are a few ways you can avoid the same costly mistakes.

Real Time isn’t always the best – Technology moves lightening fast. This can be great and a complete detriment in so many ways. Consumers can relay information in real time as it happens with the push of a button. This can put companies in tailspin as they become reactionary often before they have all the details. Bottomline: Until you have the details or facts of a situation, don’t feel compelled to respond immediately. It is best to contact and defer to your social media expert in a crisis to determine the best course of action, which I’ll touch on later.

Define social media policies – It is imperative to have a clearly defined social media policy long before it is actually needed. While most small businesses don’t need an exhaustive handbook, a conglomerate like H&M should’ve had the right people at the helm to avoid such a costly mistake. A similar affect on a small business would be much more devastating to absorb. Some questions to ask yourself are: Who has access to social media and what are their roles and responsibilities? These are questions that need answers. Generally, the bigger the crisis the higher up the totem pole you go for handling.

Public Relations has its place – If it hits the fan and you happen to have a public relations  or social media specialist on staff, now may be the time to call in the big guns. Unless you’ve been in a similar situation before or are knowledgeable on political correctness don’t try to be a hero.

If you would like more information on one on one coaching or implementing social media policies for your team contact me at 602-761-0885 or email at niaonsocial@yahoo.com.

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