Buffer Hack: A Guide to Successful Crisis Management


Buffer-logoWith social media comes a whole new set of rules for your organisation’s crisis communications and crisis management. We’re often given opportunities to learn about social media crisis management through the highly visible fallout from the experiences of others. Buffer, the social sharing platform was hacked in October 2013. Although this wasn’t a positive experience for them, because of their successful crisis management strategy, things actually turned out ok in the end. So where did Buffer go right and what can we learn from them?

Communication is key

Buffer communicated with the media, their customers and their social audience from the get go. They successfully created a social buzz which was largely positive across their channels. Customers praised the company for their transparency and timely communications and voiced their support. Buffer reps were tweeting in response to each and every mention they received at the peak of their crisis. Staff were communicating across their blog, Twitter, Facebook and through the media, to ensure customers were fully informed. They weren’t scared to get ahead of the story, making sure that their customers heard the details of the situation from them, before they heard it from any other source.

Effective Team Management

Buffer managed their team, processes and partners effectively to reduce the impact of the interruption and they even reinforced their core values to customers while doing so. Genius. Teamwork was key. As the hack occurred on a Saturday afternoon, staff were not in the office so they worked from home, connecting with Google Hangouts. They worked together to manage Twitter, emails, and blogs post comments, keeping the user front of mind giving them real time updates and answering any questions. They expressed true concern, care and sincerity – and were completely human.

Continued Post-hack Communication

Buffer continued to be informative by providing their users with step-by-step information for reactivating their accounts. Once the situation was resolved, they heightened their security measures so as to protect the situation from happening again and they restated and reassured that they had taken the situation seriously by declaring that new security measures had been put into place. Most importantly, they welcomed feedback from users, making their crisis communications a two way process, the best way to learn and adapt.

Buffer focused on communicating efficiently throughout the crisis, keeping their users updated and reassured and, as a result, their users trust and feel connected to the brand in a more positive way than they did before the hacking occurred. Every organisation can learn from Buffer and the way they chose to handle this, potentially disastrous, crisis situation. A strong brand culture, team empowerment and an open and honest, two way communication process is essential.

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