This has not, to put it mildly, been a good week for Paula Deen.
On Wednesday of this week- June 19th- The National Enquirer announced they had video of a deposition where Deen admitted to making racist jokes, among other unsavory allegations. (You can read more about it in The Huffington Post or TIME; NPR has a link to the entire transcript) As is now par for the course, the conversation about it exploded on Twitter.
We’ve discussed before how you can use TweetReach historical analytics to research a past social media crisis and see how it unfolded, how the parties involved reacted, and how they could have changed their decisions to better fit the situation. If you’re in the midst of experiencing a crisis firsthand, however, you can do more than panic and go silent. (A practice we do not recommend. The conversation is already happening; you should be a part of it. More on that in a minute.)
The conversation around Deen was huge: 93.7k contributors sent 233.1k tweets with an overall reach of 73.6 million. Reach spiked on the 19th with the birth of the hashtag #PaulasBestDishes, a riff on her wishing viewers “Love and Best Dishes” on her show:
Conversation on the 19th spiked up to 49.8M of the 73.6M total reach, or nearly 68%.
Situations like this are not easy to approach and monitor- especially if you’re already feeling panicky- but our tools can help, and you have several options.
- Run a snapshot report to get a quick idea of the conversation that’s happening; this will give you a better idea of what people are actually saying, rather than what an online article might tell you they’re saying.
- Set up a Tracker with a TweetReach Pro account to capture all tweets around the subject moving forward, so you don’t miss any new developments.
- Consider a historical backfill, if the activity on Twitter came to your attention a few hours after the controversy started.
- Be careful and inclusive with the terms you use in your Tracker or snapshot report: Paula Deen, for instance, had a lot of people joining in the conversation but misspelling her name as Paula Dean, with an A. In a time like this it’s especially crucial to make sure you capture all the information you can around the conversation. We tracked both spellings of Deen’s name, and these other terms, including her Twitter handle, the hashtag that people were using, and her first and last name run together, an unofficial Deen Twitter handle that exists*:
You can see a full list of what you can search for on TweetReach here.
*This one didn’t include the “@” symbol because we didn’t want to catch any tweets coming from that account, only those who used the term while talking about her.
Once you’ve gathered this information, you’ll be able to pair it with the crisis communication plan you hopefully already have outlined. If you don’t have one outlined ahead of time, you’ll be as informed as possible to act and avoid over-or-under-reacting to the situation. Are people calling for a certain kind of apology? Is there a small, but vocal group of people who are truly enraged that you can directly address? Are most people just passing the same few tweets around?
We said it earlier and we’ll say it again: the conversation is already happening. You should be a part of it. Otherwise, others will speak for you:
Basic tweet stats in the conversation around Deen.
You want to respond to the conversation that’s actually happening, not one that has been filtered and presented to you through other means. While the big news and gossip sites were some of the most tweeted URLs and the top contributors to the conversation around Deen, the most retweeted tweets** came from regular Twitter users. If you were to solely go off of the information in those articles, you would be missing out on the most important participants in the conversation: the general public, which includes the people who are already your customers, who have been in the past, and whom you may hope to reach in the future.
Top contributors to the tracked conversation terms, and the top URLs shared.
Arm yourself with good information, and act accordingly. It’s not something anyone wants to have to deal with, but it happens. Be prepared, and have a plan in place. We can be a part of that plan if you choose.
**We are not sharing the most retweeted tweets due to their content. You can search “#PaulasBestDishes” on Twitter to see them and others.