Social media stats show how crisis stakes higher than ever


An end-of-the-year report from SocialMediaSupport via Creotivo reinforces the realities of the last five years and shows once again how crucial social media is in any crisis-management strategy.

I won’t produce the whole infographic here, you can follow the link to see it, but here are a few eye-opening stats:

One out of every seven minutes spent online is on Facebook;

340 million tweets are sent each day;

Pinterest is the social network that skews most heavily towards female users, while Google+ is predominately used by men;

300 million pictures are uploaded to Facebook every day via Instagram;

61 percent of LinkedIn members use it as their primary professional networking site.

Stats of course are nothing more than what you do with them. But in this case they should reinforce that any crisis has a major if not dominant social media aspect. Facebook now has 1 billion people registered, and half use it daily; Twitter has 517 million people registered, but only at 13 percent use it daily.

Four billion videos are viewed on YouTube daily. Daily. Note to crisis managers: If you have a good CEO news conference dealing with a crisis, video it and get it up on YouTube fast.

Now let’s look at the downside of all this. First, if you get on the wrong side of the social media wave, you’re probably going to drown. And it’s extremely laborious and difficult to rehabilitate a person’s or company’s reputation after social media shredded it. Google will almost forever return the bad news first in searches. SEO and smart strategies notwithstanding, if you screw up and it becomes a social media wildfire, you’re the guy on the roof with the garden hose watching the hillside above burn toward you.

Mitt Romney may have lost the presidency because of a snippet of pirated video. President Obama won re-election in part because his grassroots get-out-the-vote program was young, energetic, web-based and utilized all available social media tools. Is there a higher stakes dichotomy than that?

During the Alabama-Notre Dame college football championship game Monday night the sexist attention of commentator Brent Musburger and ESPN’s cameras was drawn to Katherine Webb, Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron’s girlfriend. She was Miss Alabama 2012.

In the course of the game, her Twitter following went from 2,000 to more than 110,000. In three hours. She’s an aspiring model, and you can bet the ranch she’ll be on some magazine covers soon, and probably get called for the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue.

If your company sells something — a Ford Mustang, an Apple iPhone, designer boots — you have to take note of all this. And if your product somehow screws up and hurts someone or shows shoddy workmanship, watch out for what social media can do. It’s exponential. You already know that? What are you doing about it? 

Social media’s flashdrive factor makes it an unchecked, steriod-pumped version of the old game of telephone, where what someone whispers to one person is unrecognizable when it reaches the 10th. That’s scary.

It won’t be long before the family members of sports, movie and political stars charge to wear t-shirts and hats hawking products during the big game. And the converse is true. What if Ms. Webb, anticipating the attention [which probably was not a hard call to make] wore a t-shirt saying “Arm All Teachers?” Or, “I Heart Target?” Or, “Bank of America Sucks?”

Don’t think it can’t happen, and expect it will. The power of media shifted to the people some time ago and what these statistics prove is that now the people know it and are using that power.

The content of this blog is about crisis management and mismanagement in a digital age. It originates with Steve Bell, who spent 30 years as a journalist for the Associated Press and in four top editor positions at The Buffalo News. He is now Partner/Director of Public Affairs at Eric Mower + Associates, one of the nation’s largest independent advertising, integrated marketing and public relations agencies, with seven offices in the Northeast and Southeast. Learn more about EMA at http://www.mower.com. Steve’s blog is based on his own opinions and does not represent the views or positions of Eric Mower + Associates.

About steveoncrisis

The content is about crisis management and mismanagement in a digital age. It comes from Steve Bell, who spent 30 years as a journalist for the Associated Press and as managing editor and editorial page editor at The Buffalo News. He is now Partner/Director of Public Affairs at Eric Mower and Associates, one of the nation's largest independent advertising, integrated marketing and public relations agency with six offices in the Northeast and Southeast.
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