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Social media has long been lauded as a wonderful way to connect with customers and to build excitement for your brand/company/etc. But social media can also be an amazingly effective crisis management tool. That is, if the tools are in the hands of someone that knows how to utilize them properly, and one Gary Vaynerchuk definitely does.

Recently GaryVee had a bit of a crisis situation on his hands. He has a site called Cork'd, which is a community site for wine lovers. The site was hacked, and worst of all, set up to re-direct to a porn site. And to make matters worse, Tech Crunch, arguably the most influential tech website on the planet, picked up on this and ran a post on it. Yikes!
Now let's step back for a second and realize what has happened. One of Gary's sites has been hacked, and not only hacked, but set to re-direct to a porn site. At this point, this is on the verge of becoming a full-blown disaster, but what Gary does next is the blueprint for how a company should handle an online crisis situation by using social media.
First, Gary understands that Tech Crunch is a massively influential and well-trafficked tech site, so he reads it daily. As a result, he saw the post about Cork'd getting hacked soon after it was published on Tech Crunch.
Second, he immediately set out to create a plan on dealing with this crisis. He left a response to the Tech Crunch post, but also left his response as a video comment. This allowed Gary to quickly address the situation, explain what had happened, why it happened, and that he was at fault. Tech Crunch readers immediately came to his defense and praised his response.
By quickly replying to the story, and in an honest and transparent tone, Gary immediately turned a potentially very negative situation into a positive experience. His response dictated the end result, as it always does in social media.
Gary also posted an excellent video recapping the day's events, how he handled the situation, and what he learned. If you are interested in learning how social media can be used as a crisis management tool, this video is a must-view:

Key takeaways:

1 - Monitor social media channels
. Gary was alerted to the problem with Cork'd because he reads Tech Crunch on a daily basis. He understands the power that Tech Crunch has in covering a space that's important to his business.

2 - Use social media channels to respond
. Gary immediately responded at the focal point, directly in the comments of the Tech Crunch story. He didn't respond a day later because a reporter emailed him asking for a comment on the 'Cork'd gets hacked Tech Crunch story', he knew about the story shortly after it was posted, and addressed it quickly.
3 - Admit your mistakes. Gary admitted that the hack was partly because he hadn't been paying as much attention to Cork'd as he wanted to. He came off to others as being someone that was humble and apologetic. When you are wrong, it's best if YOU say it before everyone else does.
4 - Use social media to solve the problem. Because Gary is active on Twitter, he has a network of tens of thousands of friends that were willing to help him solve his problem. Gary reached out to them, and they quickly responded with help. Also notice that he was criticized by one user for not offering to pay, and another offered to solve his problem and added that his money was 'no good'. Tara Hunt (@MissRogue), another 'power' Twitter user, also came to Gary's defense.
5 - Build your Ark BEFORE it rains. Gary could lean on his community to help him through this crisis because he HAD a community. He had built up equity with these people for the past couple of years, and they were ready and willing to help him out.
One final thought. Notice that Tech Crunch went back and edited their original post to first add a link to Gary's video comment, then to add the video above, which Gary posted on his website. Thanks to Gary being proactive, the very point where the crisis began, became a channel for Gary to not only diffuse the situation, but to build more equity by making a quick and proper response.
What did YOU learn from how Gary handled this?

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image of Mack Collier

Mack Collier is a social-media strategist based in Alabama. He helps companies build programs and initiatives that let them better connect with their customers and advocates. His podcast, The Fan-Damn-Tastic Marketing Show, discusses ways that brands can turn customers into fans. His first book, Think Like a Rock Star: How to Create Social Media and Marketing Strategies That Turn Customers Into Fans, was published in April 2013 by McGraw-Hill.

Twitter: @MackCollier

LinkedIn: Mack Collier