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Bar graph with trend line showing brand crisis impact

How to Measure the Impact of a Crisis on Your Brand Image

Philippa Dods

Jul 1, 2019

On social media, a single incident can quickly create a crisis and be detrimental to a brand – not just in terms of perception but also in sales – which will be remembered for years.

While a company can try to improve its brand reputation through content and branding campaigns, the brand perception is ultimately shaped by the opinions and experiences of consumers. Marketers must, therefore, be extra vigilant to protect their brand when a crisis strikes, not only during but also once the crisis period has passed.

Before deciding your course of action in terms of crisis communication, it is essential to measure the impact of the crisis on the reputation of your brand, in order to be able to respond effectively. It is therefore essential to measure:

  • What is being said about your brand during this crisis on social networks
  • Who speaks about it
  • Perceptions of the brand during and after the crisis

Top Tip: For insights on how to navigate a world drowning in Fake News, access of free, on-demand Webinar on How to Protect Your Reputation in a Fake News World and learn more about brand reputation measurement.

man holding a newspaper on fire

Indicators to Follow

In a crisis situation, it is therefore very important to react quickly and pay attention to every detail. A crisis watch is essential in order to alert us to the feeling of our customers, to guide our communication strategies and to enable us to identify new media to target.

So we can start by including a watch on both the press and social networks. Even if your brand does not have a great presence on social media, these are often the place where the crises are discussed, so it is important to stay informed of what is said.

1. Evolution and scope of media coverage

How many messages and articles related to your crisis have been published? How much of your crisis does it occupy compared to your usual media coverage? What days did the message peaks take place?

The case of H&M Mexico is a good example. The brand experienced a global crisis in early 2018 when it put on sale a  designer sweatshirt disagreeing with the brand’s diversity values. Meltwater’s social media monitoring tool to analyze the coverage of this crisis at a local level allowed them to follow what the journalists said and react accordingly.

2. Feeling

In times of crisis, your negative hedge will be much larger than usual. The challenge will be to return this rate of negative mentions to a normal rate. It is therefore essential to monitor your brand’s sentiment score throughout crisis management.

3. Evolution of feeling

Following the evolution of sentiment over time will allow you to identify and manage peaks of negative mentions, which you can explore to identify relays and key topics related to your crisis. You will also be able to follow the impact of your crisis communication on your web mentions day by day.

4. Keywords and SEO

The keywords contain clues as to how people perceive your brand during and after a crisis. Use  a social media monitoring tool  to quickly gather branding information so you can do it:

  • Identify the key topics: What are the common concerns raised? Do people associate your brand with the crisis?
  • Related Hashtags: It is not uncommon for customers to band together by labeling their complaints under a derogatory hashtag. Keep track of these hashtags over time for more information beyond brand endorsements or customer messages on social media pages about your brand.

5. Key Trends: Press and Social Media

In order to address the most appropriate response, it is important to understand what the media and the general public feel about your crisis situation.

What are the most common topics? Distinguish the impact of press and of social media because the content broadcast on these two channels can be very different.

This indicator will then be interesting to follow during your crisis management, to make sure that your answer is correctly integrated by your community, and to adjust if necessary.

6. Top Sources and Influencers

Who are the main broadcasters of your crisis? Are they detractors or ambassadors?

By identifying media and influencers about your business, you can prioritize your communication. Determine the best way to show appreciation to the heroes and positive spokespeople during the duration of the crisis.

7. Top Social Posts

Which social media publications related to your crisis have the most impact (engagement, sharing, etc.)?

You will be able to identify influencers who are relaying your crisis, and opinions that arouse the most consensus in relation to your situation.

8. Geographical scope

Does your crisis have a very local, national or international reach?

9. Latest news

Because every content can be critical in times of crisis, it’s important to have a news feed updated at your fingertips in real-time.

Identify the impact of the crisis on business and customers

Of all the measures that companies need to focus on, the customer response to a crisis is ultimately the most important.

The feedback that customer relations teams receive in terms of calls or emails is the most direct feedback on the potential impact of a crisis on the current financial results.

Depending on the type of business, customers may be the best public to filter the noise they hear. If they ask questions, you will have a clear point of reference as to the extent of the problem you may be facing.

For consumer brands, customer engagement can be measured simply by the decision not to buy a product, so tracking sales in real-time is essential.

The conclusion to be drawn here is that the measures must be adapted to the type of business and relationship with the customer.

Follow the Evolution After the Crisis

It is also important to monitor the impact of your crisis communication on the perception of the brand after the crisis has been minimised.

Only then will you be able to determine:

  • If your brand has completely recovered from the crisis and customers have forgiven and forgotten.
  • Whether it is appropriate to launch new content or branding campaign, or if your PR team is facing the crisis again.
  • Evaluate the “consequences” taking into account the time needed for the discussions related to the crisis to stabilise or diminish.
  • If the crisis is among the most important web search keywords related to your brand.

As for the case of Wonder Woman with ThinkThin, with their promotional operation co-branded. Unfortunately for thinkThin, it’s their brand name that has caused a disagreement with the audience’s expectations of the film. Presumably, if their bars had been named thinkHealthy, there would have been no near-crisis.

The mainstream media and social media condemned the film for about a week, and by the time it was released in June 2017, we found almost no mention of this ill-conceived partnership.

And although they did not cancel the campaign, neither brand promoted it on social media. Wonder Woman has become a huge blockbuster and neither brand has been boycotted.

Create a Crisis Report

Rebuilding your brand’s reputation after a crisis requires tact and good timing. It is therefore essential to write a crisis report in which you will analyze and mention the plan implemented to minimize the crisis. This will help you to:

  • Identify influencers who have stood up for your brand and who could become your spokespeople in your post-crisis campaign.
  • Detect key complaints that should be addressed in official communications
  • Determine whether your brand should continue as usual or better communicate by taking corrective action, based on the volume of crisis-related discussions, conversation keywords, and sentiment about your brand.

If you’d like to learn more about how social media monitoring tools can help you determine a crisis and keep your brand image up to scratch; request a free demo of the Meltwater tool.