The image above makes me assume that, while Progressive Insurance may have a social media policy in place, it does not have a crisis plan. Or at least not a crisis plan that considers social media -- Twitter most obviously.
With nearly a dozen people designated as Progressive Insurance Twitter representatives, there is a single tweet to deal with a controversy first detailed in this post from comedian, Matt Fisher. A controversy that pulls up more than 5,000 hits on Google News as of this post's writing.
Twitter About Face
The image above reflects an updated account. A picture of Progessive's ad spokes-character, Flo, has been replaced by the anonymous logo. And 16 "robo-tweets" attempting to address the controversy have been removed.
The robo-tweets in question were a single tweet, posted repeatedly by the social media app Twitlonger. This repetition has come under scrutiny and it also has been deleted and replaced with a single, unemotional statement. All of these actions, along with 11 head shots of Progressive's Twitter Team members, simply reinforces the perception that Progressive Insurance does not really care about this issue or, as a result, it's policyholders.
Sharing's Exponentially Powerful Ability to Distribute a Message
By posting his story on Tumblr, it's already been reblogged on Tumblr more than 11,000 times since being posted on Monday...two days ago. But an article from Daily Dot speaks to even more distribution of this news via social sharing.
"And the flames jumped to the other social media platforms, too. Progressive’s Facebook page has been bombarded with links to the aforementioned Tumblr post. But perhaps the single biggest display of backlash has occurred on Twitter. Mr. Fisher’s story caught the attention of several users with a sizeable Twitter following."
A tweet from actor Wil Wheaton had the potential to reach many of his more than 2 million followers. But more telling is the fact that "Wheaton’s tweet was retweeted 2,624 times."
The Daily Dot also points to a tweet from comedian Patton Oswalt that has been retweeted 6,471 times." And he's all but dedicated his twitter stream to slamming Progressive. And "according to Topsy, a social media search engine, Progressive was mentioned 64,255 times" in the 24 hours preceding The Daily Dot's article.
Progressive's New Approach?
I'm not part of Progressive's PR team, legal team or a member of its Twitter Team. So there are a quadrillion facts I don't bring to the following ideas. And anyone else discussing this crisis should also acknowledge the same.
But with the aforementioned distance from the issue, I'd suggest Progressive spend some money around paid media across Twitter and Facebook to start telling their story. And that story had best be more than a statement from Progressive's legal-bot. It's one small point in a littany of things Progressive is probably immersed in as we speak. Or at least it should be.
As far as integrating social media into a crisis plan, any plan not acknowledging social media is arguably rendered ineffective. In fact, I've been wanting to address how social media impacts a crisis plan for some time now. To oversimplify my take on the matter, I'll simply say that crisis plans need to build structure wherein a defined approach is established that allows teams to quickly assess and react according to the unique circumstances a crisis will bring. It's not as simple as having a phone tree and dark site in place. OK, it never was that simple. More to come on this topic.