In March, the New York Times, in collaboration with The Observer in London, published an article that led to Facebook’s biggest challenge yet. You’re probably familiar with the Cambridge Analytica Scandal. The data firm, Cambridge Analytica, improperly obtained user data from Facebook in order to build and sell psychological profiles to political campaigns. This user data was then used to manipulate Facebook users in various ways throughout the presidential election. Facebook has been under fire ever since, with many people electing to remove themselves from the service altogether.
In an attempt to save face and rebuild trust in the brand, Facebook has been undergoing crisis management since the March article’s release. Reputation management and crisis management is key for any business. Perhaps, by looking at Facebook’s handling of the Cambridge Analytica Scandal, we can gain valuable insight for how to, or how not to, handle a crisis.
Facebook is now attempting to distance itself from terms like “data misuse” and “fake news,” heavy-hitting keywords associated with the scandal. The new marketing campaigns have focused on data transparency for its users. Denouncing fake news and data misuse are expected, of course. But, regulators are still on the case and the Facebook brand is still trending downward. As much as they have tried to make themselves look like the trustworthy good guy, the jury is still out.
In the UK., the Information Commissioner’s Office, or ICO, found Facebook guilty of failure to safeguard users’ data. They also found them guilty of failing to be transparent about how that user data was used by third parties, issuing a £500,000 fine. Facebook admits it made a mistake. But, it remains unclear whether they intend to pay the fine (pocket change for such a large company).
Slow to Act
When the news originally broke, Facebook – specifically Mark Zuckerberg – was slow to issue a response. As celebrities bashed Facebook on social media and encouraged others to quit their accounts, the lack of any public response from the heads of the company seemed to fester negative public perception.
Key Takeaways: Crisis Management
Many companies today rely on the data of their users, data which can be exceptionally marketable to third parties. The way in which you protect this data is essentially the way you protect the future of your business. And, transparency is always key. You may find yourself in a situation like that of Facebook’s. Here are several key takeaways that will help you in a time of crisis management.
- Act Fast – If your business finds itself in a crisis, it is best to acknowledge any mistake as quickly – and publicly – as possible. Sincerity here will also go a long way, particularly if an apology is necessary.
- Be Transparent – When attempting to regain the trust of customers, marketing attempts that aim to rebuild brand awareness should focus on honesty and transparency.
- Embrace Change – If change is in order, whatever the issue, don’t be afraid to make it. Facebook changed the way they communicate, share, and handle user data as a result of the Cambridge Analytica Scandal. If they can do it, so can you.
- Rely on your Core Team – As the leader of your company or brand, it will be important to rely on the core individuals that you trust, those that believe in your leadership and support you. Crisis management is difficult. Many will question you, which is necessary. However, keeping a core team in place will provide a foundation on which your leadership. Therefore, your business, can thrive upon.
Crisis Management with Web Content Development
For more information about crisis management, reputation management or how to build your brand, contact Web Content Development today.