When the US recession was in full swing, the government conducted a stress test of the banks to see how much trouble those banks could handle before they’d collapse.  Understanding potential worst case scenarios should, in theory, help an organization avoid them.

Have you conducted a stress test of your marketing or PR team, to see how much trouble they can sustain before your reputation — or your business — would fall apart?  (Good news: it’s probably more than you think.)

On the other hand, how much positive feedback can you process before even the nicest compliments start sounding like white noise to your overtaxed brain?  (Do you even know what you should be listening for?)

As exciting as the immediate connectivity of social media can be, that immediacy comes with a price.  Bad news can travel fast, while good news can become a tsunami that overwhelms our ability to make use of it.  The key is to understand your limits at both ends, and to plan for both the best and the worst-case scenarios.  Ask yourself questions like…

  • In an emergency, how many people would we need to operate our social media channels?
  • Are there well-known protocols to help everyone stay on the same page?
  • How bad does a situation need to get before we need to make a public statement?

Or, while thinking happy thoughts…

  • How are we separating “good” feedback from “great” feedback?
  • How much of our feedback is actionable, and how much doesn’t require a response?
  • Can we identify potential partnerships and opportunities by studying our metrics?

The better prepared you are for both the highs and lows of real-time engagement with customers, competitors and the general public, the easier it is to capitalize on your upsides and mitigate your losses.