June 2, 2016

Bank of America's Social Media Crisis

Have you heard of Christine McMullen Lindgren? Your answer is probably no, but let me introduce her and the situation at hand. Christine Mcmullen Lindgren is an employee at the Bank of America. Last night she allegedly posted a racist rant on Facebook… Of course, a screenshot of the rant was picked up by everyone (and their mothers) and shared all over social media, with #christenmullenlindgren and #christinelindgren trending on social channels. How lucky is she that she has her own trending hashtag, right!?

Social Media Crisis Management

How is Bank of America responding to the messages they’re being bombarded with? They’re not.

  • Scheduled posts are still being published on Bank of America’s Facebook and Twitter accounts
  • Visitor posts and comments are being deleted and/or hidden
  • Visitor posts and comments, tweets, etc. are not being responded to

Let’s be real, my community manager/social media strategist friends, this would be the scariest thing to deal with in your career (and if not the scariest, it’d be at least one of the scariest). Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance… I’d totally go through all the stages of grief and cry my eyes out… But with acceptance comes stepping up and handling things. Something I’m sure Bank of America is doing right now, but they forgot about the public, they forgot about their customers and clients. So many people are angry with them (on and off social media), they want their frustration to be acknowledged… But Bank of America is doing none of these things on social media.

From reading visitor posts on the Bank of America Facebook Page, the company is allegedly aware of the crisis and are conducting an internal investigation. Perhaps their lawyer advised the company to not write a statement on social media, which is fine because I am not a lawyer and I’m sure there’s a strategy there… But from a PR perspective, stalling scheduled posts and writing a short, simple statement on how the company is aware of the situation and are looking into it, would calm down the storm, at least by a little bit.

Social Media Mistakes

It’s a definite flashback to the Edmonton Party City Crisis, and if there’s anything we learned there, leaving your public hanging on social media is a no-no. And, not to toot my own horn (okay, I want to toot it a little bit ), had the Bank of America Community Manager attended my session at iMEDIA Social Media Conference, they would have learned how to handle this a lot better… The lesson here is that we all make mistakes as social media professionals, but hopefully we can learn from mistakes that were made by others. While I can’t say whether or not it’s a lawyer or a public relations specialist advising them to not release a statement, the longer the wait to do something, the more severe the storm is going to get.
I am, however, super excited to see how this plays out.


This post was originally published at 10:30am.
11:15am: Bank of America has posted! After like, 24 hours.

People are joyous, brand defenders are out in full force… Many are still upset though and still threatening to move their accounts to another company.

How would YOU handle this?

What do YOU think? Do you think by being silent and ignoring the public on social media Bank of America is doing the right thing? What would you do in this situation? Is their statement enough, should they have apologized? Leave a comment below or send us a tweet.

Know What’s Next
from Top Draw