Managing a brand crisis

In my years as a digital media advertising professional, I’ve seen my fair share of social media crisis play out and have had the opportunity to be a part of crisis management for some leading brands in Sri Lanka.

Whether it’s an internal team or your agency team working on the task at hand it’s important for cool heads to prevail and start looking towards the immediate next step.

There are a few aspects that come into play when a crisis hits a brand: from social listening to formulate a response, to monitoring the online sentiment, preparation of periodic reports, etc.. a lot of things need to happen in a short period of time before you can even assess the impact or being to think about recovery.

Here are some best practices, and mistakes for brands and agencies alike to learn from:

Building the team

It’s essential to put together a team that will be able to work exclusively on the crisis at hand. When putting this team together it’s always a good idea to have a diverse set of individuals. People who are able to leave their biases behind and can identify/relate to the consumer who is affected by or as in many cases causes the crisis. It’s also important to have people with opposing views on the matter to be able to simulate the thought process and mind map the conversations that are happening online.

The problem that comes when this is not the case is that when the whole team is loyal to the brand, or are biased towards or against one side all your communications from response to reports will be skewed towards the bias of the group, which could end up alienating and/or preventing meaningful dialogue with the brand and the group(s) affected by or are creating the crisis.

The ethics vs. strategic perspective

When the team or the decision makers of the brand are solely focused on the business and restoring the brand’s image or sales, the efforts might not consider the ethical perspective, or might not reflect the best practices that a socially responsible brand would adhere to in the eyes of a consumer or bystanders.

What might seem like a sound recovery/counter strategy in the eyes of the brand might seem unethical to a random concerned consumer. It’s not their job to interpret a brands motive or intentions. So be prepared for a backlash, always.

No response is better than a bad response

Always test your responses with a sample of every possible stakeholder before putting out a communication. Listen to what they have to say, especially the negative comments. A lot of the time I see the brand having no choice but to stick by their story even through a backlash because they put out the communication without testing with stakeholders with negative sentiments.

When you test things you have the opportunity to avoid a pain point or prepare a response. What I see happening is: out of frustration and desperation resulted by lack of preparation brands and admins get defensive and eventually go on the offense.

So on some occasions, the best strategy is not to respond or have a prepared statement for legal purposes and continually monitor the situation.

If you have no fault you have nothing to defend.


Sign an NDA if you have to, but if you keep your agency or team working on the situation in the dark none of their efforts will yield results because they are working on assumptions.

How influence works on social media

Let’s start with what an influencer is not: it’s not the ability to promote a brand, it’s the fact that you have been handpicked by the brand to represent them. okay, I’m kidding that’s so not it. Now that we’ve got that out of the way:

So, according to me: These above-mentioned activities just makes you a mouthpiece of a brand ( you are the discount version of a brand ambassador who essentially works for free), according to this logic the true influencer in this scenario is the brand or organisation that managed to influence you to talk about them on social media (for free or next to nothing).

Being a mouthpiece isn’t a bad thing per se, there are many benefits and free stuff you can accumulate if you play your cards right. I myself have taken advantage of being a mouthpiece by tweeting some nice things for free stuff. The trick is to not mistake that as an influence and assume this influence somehow gives you authority over a community.

By this logic, by extension the real influencers are people who can influence the brands or organizations, right? I’ll categorize these people for better understanding:

– Journalists
– Consumer rights movements
– Activists
– Industry experts
– Thought leaders
– YouTube stars (During their 15 minutes of fame)
– and last but not least the people handling social media accounts for brands, who usually tend to have a say and whose job is to judge you (to determine whether you are an asset or liability to the brand).

These people can either make a public statement that will help decision-makers behind brands to mold an opinion or casually mention something in a private conversation that can easily affect a decision.

People who are not influences, but amount to mouthpieces are:

– Tweeps: People who tweet about; their day, opinions, random thoughts or just vent or flirt around on twitter. Trended a hashtag? or giving away free stuff? Still a mouthpiece ( a good one at that)

– Instagrammers: This one is a bit tricky, these people to an extent can influence people’s opinion about a brand or product if their profile is focused on a certain area (e.g: photography, exploring, reviewing, beauty, art, food, etc…) but if you just post 100 plus pics of your face or what you eat or your baby, sure you’ll rack up a few 100 likes which again makes you ideal for a mouthpiece.

– Citizen journalists: These guys are just the mouthpieces of the mouthpieces, I’m kidding. I just have an inherent mistrust regarding their agenda.

What’s your take? Where does my logic fall short? Have you any types to add to this list? let me know in the comments below!

How does she make you feel?

She’s pretty, but how does she make you feel? Pretty good actually but… you know what, never mind. You always do this, over analyze and ruin it for yourself. Besides look how popular she is. Everyone wants to be around her or be her, she’ll never notice you.

Maybe she’ll be your friend, you’re very good at being a friend, a shoulder to cry on for pretty girls. They always seem to choose you. Well… you are mostly non-threatening. Besides, you let people walk all over you.

Maybe she’ll let you love her, that’s not too bad. Sometimes all you need is an outlet to pour out your love, and you really don’t care if she loves you back. You just need to be wanted, and maybe she will.

She’s got her own problems… you think to yourself, why add to it by being in her life? Give her the space she needs. If she needs you she’ll, she’ll always have you, no matter how you feel. You are a shoulder to cry on, and that’s not a bad thing.

She’s pretty, how does that make you feel? Pretty good? Well… How does that make her feel?

Doctor Who is a Woman!

It’s official the 13th incarnation of the most popular alien with two hearts was announced to be Jodie Whittaker!


Yes! It’s happening. No! It’s not the end of the world. In fact it’s the beginning of an all new world, or should I say worlds? You know since Doctor Who is a show about a time traveling alien in outer space?

Yeah, you got it..

For those who are saying “OMG! What is wrong with the world! The Doctor HAS to be a man!”

Look I was just like you. I was determined that the Doctor had to be a man because of the 50-year-old dynamic that has worked so well but when I saw the names thrown around for the female lead I was excited, there were a bunch of talented ladies who could actually do the character justice.

That and also the male favorites thrown around weren’t as impressive or made much practical sense.

I was hoping the female Doctor would be Olivia Coleman and my only satisfactory male Doctor for the 13th incarnation would have been Craig Ferguson.

But having seen Jodie Whittaker’s talent as an actor in Broadchurch and the depth she brings to her character was enough to get me excited!

Also the fact that Chris Chibnall was in charge of Broadchurch, and had worked with Jodie before I’m confident them working together will have some amazing results.

If nothing else the fact that Chris chose her, knowing her abilities is good enough for me, and if you really need a man to validate a female Doctor there you go…

Also if you are worried about the science (fiction) and logic logic if a time lord could even be a woman? If it was just a PC move to satisfy the “femilnazi” it’s not.. Through the history of Doctor Who it has been indicated that THIS CAN HAPPEN!

A few questions tho:

  1. What will she wear? I wouldn’t mind her in a dress (it better have pockets for the sonic screwdriver) but will it be practical? I mean pants are basically unisex at this point right?
  2. Will her companion be a male? Or female? Or both?
  3. Will she have the same sonic screwdriver ans TARDIS as Capaldi?
  4. Will her Doctor be aware that she’s a woman now? He did say he’s farily certain he used to be a woman at some point (wait so he has regenerated even more that the 15 times we’re aware of?)
  5. Do female time lords (ummmm… time ladies?) Become pregnant?
  6. Will she be Scottish?
  7. Why is she still not ginger?

Well guess we’ll have to wait till the Christmas special or season 11 to find out.

I for one am super excited. I really hope Jodie Whittaker and Chris Chibnall will do this iconic show justice!

I will miss Peter and Pearl tho. Peter was the embodiment of the Doctor’s character but didn’t get a proper opportunity to shine in the first two seasons of his run and Peale didn’t get enough time to be her brilliant self.

Well, Geronimo!

Also read: 5 Reasons why Jodie Whittaker is a good choice for ‘Doctor Who’ (and none are because she is female)

I took a walk in the beach today (as much as I hate the sea breeze and the sticky feeling afterwards) hoping to catch the sunset. 

Maybe see something beautiful and get some perspective. In a way it was soul searching exercise, as I I was searching for my soul. Lately I’ve begun feel like I might have lost it along the way…. anyhow the point of this is that looking at the sun changes nothing, maybe just maybe a momentary escape but never a permanent solution. 

This picture however gave me a thought: you maybe standing on shaky ground and the sand under your feet is shifting with every incoming wave BUT stand your ground and stand firm. 

The What’s and How’s of Social Media #SAQ


Image source: elegantthemes.comow.

Social media has been around for a while now. While some of us have mastered it, we still have some questions that we should know the answer to by now but are afraid to ask at this point. Do not fear, with this post I hope to answer some of these questions so you don’t even have to ask.

What is a hashtag?

A hashtag is a link that is instantly created when the prefix # is added to a word or sentence (withNoSpaces). Its purpose is to aggregate all conversations which mention that word on that social network in real time. It’s important to use hashtags sensibly; overusing them can be annoying and distracting.

Pro tip: Use relevant tags with maybe a location tag depending on the post and the audience you want to reach.

If you want to read more, here is a good article: How To Use Hashtags Effectively Without Being Annoying

Why don’t all my posts go viral?

You can’t “make” something viral. Instead of beginning with this question, you should be thinking about how to build a community around your topic or brand. Put out messages that resonate with them, inspire them, inform them, and help build a long-lasting relationship between your page and the community. Posts that do “break the internet”, however, generally have a few major features: they contain a powerful message, tie-in with a strong cause, touch viewers emotionally, are usually easy to understand, and often have huge budgets backing them up. 😉

How can I activate the blue verified tick on my page?

You actually can’t, it’s not something we have control over. The verified badge is awarded by Facebook brand pages (and Twitter) once they authenticate the page from their end. The whole purpose of verifying an account or page is to identify the official representation in a sea of fake accounts.

Why shouldn’t my brand be on every social media platform?

Each network caters to a difference audience with different interests, and how they express these interests can vary from platform to platform. So choose wisely.

Jumping aboard all possible SM platforms can do more harm than good. It’s much better to have a consistent, reliable, and engaging presence on a few key social media networks rather than trying to do the same thing on too many and failing. When choosing which networks to maintain your brand presence on, keep in mind what each one is best for.

Facebook is a staple. Most users spend at least 18 minutes actively logged in, and it’s a great place to put out content, connect with new and existing fans, and create an enjoyable brand experience for users. Twitter isn’t as much a lead generation platform as much as it is a brand loyalty platform, so it’s a good place to go to communicate with fans one-on-one. LinkedIn is mainly for B2B, not B2C marketing, and  both Instagram and Pinterest are image-centric – so only go there if you’re dedicated to providing quality, high-resolution images and videos.

Do my regular (engagement) posts clash with or clutter my campaign posts when they are running side by side?

No, it doesn’t matter. In fact the reach generated from the engagement posts will help your campaign post to get more organic reach. There is a misconception that the Facebook page timeline needs to kept clean and in chronological order. While this is true, we sometimes do this for the wrong reasons. See, your fans aren’t going to come to your page often to view your content – it’s important to remember that your post’s first contact point with them is on their newsfeed. So whether or not your engagement posts are on while your campaign is running is irrelevant to your fans.

Where on earth has my Ticker gone?

In the last few months, a lot of people have mentioned that their Ticker (the little bar that keeps you updated on what is happening on Facebook in real time) has disappeared. Well, all you have to do is click on the little cog at the bottom of your chat bar and select “Show Ticker” from the menu that appears. You should now be able to see it again!

I hope this has been a useful post and answered at least some of your questions. If you have more questions you would like answers to, do drop a comment. I will try my best to ask them so you don’t have to! 😉

Co-authored by Havish Sivananthan.




The Rise of the Geekdom in the Sri Lankan Social Media Sphere


Image source:

If you have been on the internet within the last couple of years, then you have probably noticed that your news feeds and twitter feed are becoming more and more populated with  superhero movie related posts and tweets or Game of Thrones references. Even brands are getting in on the action.

Internationally, this has been a trend since the first Marvel movies debuted and movies in general have dominated the social media platforms. However here in Sri Lanka as always, the trends have taken their time to catch up… but at last they seem to have arrived! Or have they?

I can assume two reasons for the rise of branded superhero and geek related posts:

  1. Agencies are hiring millennials who would naturally be more inclined to get excited about superhero movies because they are geeks themselves?
  2. Brand managers are seeing the shift in the digital media environment and are asking their agencies to act on it.

Whatever the reason may be, the rise of the social media geekdom is imminent.

For instance, the latest release by Marvel, Captain America: Civil War, saw a number of related posts, and the global hype around Batman vs. Superman saw brands in Sri Lanka on tying in with it on social media in order to capitalize on it. Whether it was by awarding fans movie tickets in exchange for engagement or creatively placing their products to try and relate to the fandom, it was hard to miss.

As an example, Clogard:


I feel like it’s accurate that Cap would be a mouthwash because you know… “Language!” He’s going to clean your dirty mouth with Clogard mouthwash.

What does the future of the social media landscape in Sri Lanka look like? Is it ready to let out its inner geek?

More importantly, what are we as marketers going to do?

Let me know what you think.