Crisis elevates the importance of community.

This is another great nugget that was given to me while hanging out with Intuit‘s Small Business Word of Mouth/Social Marketing Manager, Kira Wampler.

Believe me, I’ve been there with you. Trying to sell the idea of inspiring and gathering a community together to the executive suite can be a daunting task (more on that in another post). But let’s say it happens. You do it. You get your budget and you go. And build. And gather. Ignite and inspire. You report in and tell your superiors how well everything is going. How you’ve increased online mentions X%. How you’re connecting employees with customers and watching the magic happen. And the C-suite nods their heads and says, “That’s nice. What else ya got?”

And then one day it happens. Crisis. It could be in the form of a product recall (hello, Toyota) or a full-blown attack on your brand by an angry blogger. And before the PR department can issue a statement. Before you clear what you can say about it on your website or respond on Twitter because of the legal red-tape checking, your community swings into action. Squelching naysayers. Answering questions. Pointing interested parties to information on your site. Your community becomes a line of defense – without you even asking. And in the eyes of everyone, the value of your community increases.

So…how do you measure that? Which really begs the question: do you even NEED to?

Look, if you build your community WITH your customers instead of FOR them, then you’re laying a foundation for a community that is going to be your greatest asset in times of crises. No company is immune to crises. It just depends on the size of the crisis and the timing. But if you’re doing things right, then your community can help shrink the size and shorten the length of anything crisis that comes your way. And that, my friends, is priceless.

3 Comments

  • March 3, 2010

    Joe O'Keefe

    Spike,

    Had my first REAL crisis in the store a couple of weeks ago. When I first opened the shop in the Fall of 2008 I was told I could use glasses for tastings as long as I rent them from a rental place that does weddings, parties, etc… This policy recently changed and I was staring at turning to plastic cups for my tastings. My customers would have sucked it up but from a WOM stand point it could be a disaster. Turns out, if I use a new glass only once it is completely legal. So, now I have found an inexpensive source for the glasses and will give them to the customers after the tastings if they buy a couple bottles of wine. Our core followers have all ready spread the word and what was potentially a PR nightmare and an opportunity for my competitors could be the greatest marketing coup I have had yet. The community of WINE 101 customers made this happen.

    Cheers!

    -joe

  • March 4, 2010

    Spike Jones

    That’s a great story and a great example of how a community, brought together under the RIGHT circumstances, can be a huge asset in times of need. Congrats!

  • March 4, 2010

    Matt

    A la red bull. If you look at their facebook page, every time some joker comes in talking about how “Monster is better” or how “Red Bull will kill you”, fans of the drink spring to its defense and Red Bull never lifts a finger!

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