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!

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.






Facebook Live API: What does this mean to Marketers?
Image source: 

Facebook live was first introduces the public first via only iOS, then gradually to Android and eventually to Pages. We saw various individuals, celebrities and brand getting on board the bandwagon and trying out the new feature that Facebook introduced.

Cleary Facebook Inc. has big plans for this new feature, which I should probably refer to as a platform since that is where this is eventually heading. This was further proven at this year’s Facebook F8 conference with the introduction of the Facebook Live API.

With the Facebook Live API publishers can get started with the Live API by contacting one of their Media Solutions partners. These partners have built video production, editing, and streaming products that publish directly to Facebook Live and bring live video to life with features like camera switching,

What can we do with the Facebook Live API?

1) Stream video from more than just your smartphone
The Live API lets you build video streams that mix multiple video and audio sources and introduce special effects. These can also include programmatic sources like games or screencasts.

2) Create new ways to interact with viewers
When you combine the Live API with Facebook’s Graph API, you gain access to your live video’s comments, reactions, and mentions. You can use this information to reflect viewer engagement in real time and create on-screen graphics that show live poll results, analyze comments, and enable comment moderation.

3) Go live from a standalone camera, or even a drone
The Live API can enable spectacular live videos through seamless hardware integrations. Hardware manufacturers can integrate with the Live API to let people go live directly from their devices.

A few  specs:

  • Video in maximum 720p (1280 x 720) resolution, at 30 frames per second.
  • You must send an I-frame (keyframe) at least once every two seconds throughout the stream.
  • Recommended max bit rate is 2500Kbps.
  • Video Length is 90 minute maximum length.

What is your opinion about Facebook Live? Is it the future of live streaming or is it just a farce that will fade away?

Must Have Apps for a Social Media Community Manager

The world of social media, as you would know if you are a social media account manager is forever active. It never sleeps, I have had my phone buzz with inquiries pass midnight from some of the accounts I handle. Smartphone and mobile application have made our job a 24/7 one, and that’s good. We need to be on the ball at all times. In which case these apps are making our lives much easier.

So if you are new to the social media profession here are a few apps that will make your life easier and most probably keep you a wake at night:

[Please note: This list is not in any particulate order or ranked, also I’m not going to touch on the basic apps like the Facebook, twitter, Instagram app that are pretty much a given].

     1. Facebook Pages Manager

facebook-pages-manager-10-535x535Thisis an absolute life saver. I’m sure most you are already using this but I’m going touch on this because it’s a very important one. This app lets you do pretty much everything you need to do with your pages; update posts, reply to comments and inbox, etc… The only drawback I’ve come across in this app is the inability to hide comments. You’re are going to have to permanently delete those nasty once, so take a screen shot before you do.

You can download Facebook Pages Manager from the Google Play Store  or the Apple App Store.


2. Facebook Groups

facebook-shareThis is nifty little app that isn’t talked about enough.  This app gives you a dedicated space for you and your groups. Especially your client related groups. It’s a common and recommended practice now days to create secret Facebook groups which in to communicate with the client side team and to share information or social monitoring.

This app gives you a little bit more freedom with groups than on the Facebook app. I highly recommend having this app installed.


 3. Facebook Ad Manager


Ad Manager is still in its early days. What you can do with the app is limited to viewing/pausing ads that are currently running and creating new ads on the go, which given an urgent situation or when you don’t have access to a computer.





    4. Helakuru Sinhala Keyboard 

unnamedIf you are a community manager in Sri Lanka you would have noticed by now users are responding more and more to localized content. Meaning Sinhala content. Assuming your clients allow you to use Sinhala on their accounts you’ll be typing Sinhala content a lot. With the helakuru Sinhala keyboard you can use the Wijesekara keyboard that makes typing so much easier once you get used to it.



These four app should get you started on the Social Media on the go pack. If you know any other helpful apps that I have (definitely) missed, do comment below and let me know.


Facebook is Mobilizing

  • In established markets 90% of its users access Facebook through mobile.
  • 47% of its users access Facebook only through mobile.
  • The majority of advertising revenue (51%) continues to come from outside USA.
  • org aims to provide internet access to third world countries.

Facebook Inc - A Summery 09.11.2015 v2

Facebook Inc. released their quarterly earnings last week along with a snapshot of the progress of the Facebook community.

Facebook now has close to 1.55 billion Facebook accounts with 1 billion daily active users, and 3.4 million of these users are from Sri Lanka. 900 million people use their newly-acquired messaging platform, WhatsApp, while 700 million people use their native messaging app, Messenger. 400 million (and counting) users upload images onto Instagram, and according to the latest stats made available, there are 160,000 Instagram users in Sri Lanka. Moreover 925+ million people use Facebook Groups and 8+ billion videos are viewed daily on Facebook (doubling from 4 billion in Q2).

All these statistics indicate that Facebook is one of the fastest growing social media platforms currently on the internet.

Some interesting statistics show that Facebook continues to attract new teens and seniors to its growing user base. In established markets, 90% of its users access Facebook through mobile (up from 88% in Q2) while 47% of its users access Facebook only through mobile (up from 44% in Q2). When it comes to advertising, revenue from ads served on desktop had declined from 8% YoY whereas revenue from ads served on mobile increased 73% YoY. The majority of advertising revenue (51%) continues to come from outside the USA.

Facebook is just getting started on developing their portfolio and changing how digital media is progressing with development projects such as, which aims to provide internet access to third world countries, and innovations such as beaming internet from an unmanned aircraft. The future looks bright for Facebook Inc., with announcements like the consumer release for Oculus VR gear, and introducing M, an AI-powered digital assistant. In addition to these, there are many more projects in the pipeline.

All these announcements and advancements have us all excited and looking forward to what Facebook has to offer. We will be keeping an eye out for the latest news.

Sources: Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook Inc.