CVS made waves recently with its decision to stop selling cigarettes and other tobacco products in all of its 7,600 stores by October 2014. Within minutes of the announcement, people took to social media using #cvsquits to support the brand, show their love and appreciation, and voice their concerns. CVS did not shy away from positive or negative feedback. They retweeted and thanked their supporters and addressed those who disagreed, while defending their stance on the issue.
So why all the fuss over CVS’ social media win? Well in the recent past we’ve seen a lot of brands suffer serious backlash for offensive tweets, questionable ad campaigns, controversial company statements and more. CVS understood this was a bold move that would garner a lot of press, and they were ready for it. They had a good handle on the entire social media announcement, their employees understood what their organizations stands for, and they were prepared to address the public.
What can brands learn from CVS? Here are three tips any brand should keep in mind if they want to kick butt on social:
1. Educate your employees: Before going social with any big announcement, make sure your employees are aware of the situation and know what your business stands for. They need to know how to respond and deal with any questions or concerns. Makes sure everyone in the company is on the same page.
2. Be prepared for positive and negative feedback: Have a plan to respond to both positive and negative feedback from your audience. CVS did a great job responding to people who not only lauded the company’s bold decision but also to people who posted negative tweets and comments on their social channels. They listened and responded to what their customers were saying in a timely and effective way.
3. Appoint community managers: It might be wise to appoint community managers that are in charge of how your brand presents itself online. Community managers are responsible for managing a company’s presence on social channels – they’re the social voice of a brand. In CVS’ case, there were employees actively monitoring and engaging in conversations with their customers. According to social media analytics from Crimson Hexagon, @CV_Extra experienced more than 17,000 interactions on the day of the announcement alone, compared to the 200-300 interactions they had on average the week before. So they needed community managers who understood the brand, social media, and how to effectively respond to positive feedback and criticism.
Whether you approve of CVS’s decision or not, they definitely set a great example for handling social media announcements. Expect the best but prepare for the worst…and that means educating your employees and putting a social media policy in place.
Learn how to manage social media programs in your organization like a pro by downloading our sample social media policy.