Posted 02.07.2014 by Josh Krakauer

Four Social Media Personas Revealed in a PR Crisis

The way we see it, surviving a social PR crisis requires a careful understanding of these four personas.

Remember Justine Sacco?  The now infamous PR professional who so thoughtfully sent out that teeny, tiny terrible tweet to her 200 followers before boarding a plane? While most ignorant, offensive tweets get lost in news feeds around the world, this one quickly propagated while she was in the air. Not only was it shared thousands of times before she landed, it also trended on twitter with the hashtag, #HasJustineLandedYet. Cases like this quickly grab the attention of social media freaks like us at Sculpt.

The way we see it, there are 4 kinds of social media reactions to the web’s most shameful postings. Surviving a social PR crisis requires a careful understanding of these personas.

The Simple Sharer

It’s hard not to dip your toes into the social pool of controversy. A simple retweet or “?” comment is a user’s way of saying, “So, I saw this and I really don’t know how to react.” These users are waiting for their online social circle to help make up their mind for them.  No one likes to be on the wrong side of internet fury.

The Confused

Was this a poorly done comedy, or is this freak lady being serious? These are often the ones betting an account was hacked, which is a reasonable caution in today’s world, but not in this instance.

The Angry Mob

These are the tweeters that will relentlessly tweet things to or about the offender. They think of themselves as the sword of rightousness in an internet of awful.  The cynics, the naysayers, the captains of correction and kings of sarcasm.  You’ll find them all here.

The Defenders

A different breed of human. These folks will defend the Justine Sacco’s of the world. Maybe they genuinely think she did nothing wrong, or maybe they just like to stir up the internet. Or, you know, they could just be trolls lurking in the dark as the hype begins to die.  Regardless of their angle, this group has been known to do some pretty neat things in moments like this.

Many defenders jumped into the conversation and urged users to  do something positive with their anger, and donate to organizations working to cure AIDS.  That’s a piece of actionable advice for social pros out there, just don’t ride a hashtag your brand doesn’t belong on.

Bonus: The Baffled Bystander

If none of these groups fit your style, you might just be the person sitting at your computer face-palming and questioning your faith in humanity.  Like me. There is nothing wrong with being the baffled bystander, just the power your online voice can have. So, congratulations  for drawing so much attention that Sacco was fired before  stepping foot off her plane. Total power move, internet.

Be honest.  Which group do you fall in line with? Share your confessions with us in the comments.

*This post co-authored by the always-perfect @Becca_Abs.

Ricky Brandt

Ricky joined the squad at Sculpt in the Fall of 2013 and now lives in Chicago. When he's not crafting witty tweets or analyzing client accounts, Ricky is hard at work on his college food blog.

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