#SoMeSW and social media disasters

A cartoon of Keyboard Cat and the text 'You've gone viral!'On Tuesday evening Bonny and I ran a workshop at the #SoMeSW June meet up. As UX designers we’re interested in how an organisation’s social media presence can affect the user experience.

We split the attendees into small teams and assigned them the name and brief description of an (imaginary) organisation for which they’d play the role of social media managers. We then asked them to write the absolute worst tweet their rogue Managing Director could ever send from the organisation’s account. Once they’d decided what this was, every ten minutes or so we handed the teams a new and terrible twist in the tale and asked them to discuss how they’d respond.

#SoMeSW presentation title slide reading 'You've Gone Viral: The What, When and WTF of Social Media Disasters'On the basis that most #SoMeSW attendees are social media professionals we didn’t make this easy for them. Everyone took part enthusiastically, having a laugh but also doing some serious social media strategising. We ended with a quick presentation of some of our ‘favourite’ social media disasters. These included Susan Boyle’s hashtag fail and the time US Airways tweeted pornography.

While we had fun there was a serious message. If you’re responsible for your organisation’s social media presence you need to run regular fire drills. Figure out the things that could go wrong, who in your organisation will respond to them, and how:

Just as your office building needs a fire drill, your communications strategy needs an emergency plan. Every site or service will fail eventually; it’s only a matter of when or how.

We pushed the teams to sometimes ridiculous extremes but right on cue the next morning this happened, with the whole incident unfolding across Twitter, Facebook and Buzzfeed. Which just goes to show it’s never too soon to run a social media fire drill.

Further reading:

The Storify on Together We’re Better

Bonny’s write-up

#SoMeSW on Twitter