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Responding to Facebook Attacks: Companies Weigh In At SxSW

The last day of SxSWi 2011, I decided to take a brief foray into crisis management, specifically looking at how brands respond to Facebook attacks. The dynamic session was highlighted by Dell and Intel discussing how they handled the issue of brand attacks.

Ekaterina Walter, Intel’s social media strategist and Laura Thomas, a senior consultant at Dell who oversaw its Facebook presence consolidation, provided a few helpful tips that I thought made sense to share with our readers. While many of these are common sense, they shared some good data:

  • Facebook interaction changes perception—Over the past year, Dell interacted with more than 5,000 customers on Facebook. A set of them had 98% negative view/comment of Dell. After the Facebook interaction, 36% of the 5,000 publicly expressed satisfaction.


  • Social media crisis response still requires planning—Organizations need to have the right policies and procedures in place, but they also need to test them. Ekaterina from Intel shared an example where Intel had the listening tools in place, and the listeners alerted one department, but not her. This showed they needed to have more practice drills. Companies should plan a few social media crisis drills/year.


  • Explain your actions—If you are turning comments off, not responding to certain posts, or deleting certain posts, clearly explain why. Laura  @Dell emphasized “Make sure you set up at the very beginning what you will/won’t allow and enforce it.” For example, Dell allows negative comments but not R-rated language.  They will highlight that a response was deleted due to profanity.

Another example that was shared by the panel: A Mayo clinic radiologist had allegedly made some racist comments. Protesters went in and posted the comments on Mayo’s Facebook wall.  Mayo allowed the negative comments to run for 2-3 days, then created a discussion tab and thread there, and they posted to the wall, they had moved the discussion there, and if people continue to post on the wall, those posts will be deleted.


  • Volume (both positive and negative) matters—According to panelists, just 0.02% of posts on Facebook make it into people’s “Top News” feeds. This means a lot of Wall discussion is only seen if you visit the site. If you want to be visible, you need to encourage conversation on the Wall, not on discussion boards. Or as I like to say it: “Links are Google Juice, Wall Posts are Facebook Juice.” 

Do you have other tips you would like to share?

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Mark McClennan

Mark McClennan

Senior Vice President at MSLGROUP

For the past 20 years, Mark has led teams working with innovative technology and healthcare clients for MSLGROUP. He is also the national chair-elect for PRSA.

Mark McClennan

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