NEW YORK—Weber Shandwick has launched a new social crisis simulator, FireBell, designed to create an authentic, real-time experience that lets clients experience what it is like to be under attack on social media channels. The proprietary application allows clients to participate in a real-time dialogue in a secure, off-the-Internet environment.
The new application was designed in-house by Weber Shandwick software developers and social media strategists. It simulates crisis situations on multiple social media platforms including Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Digg, LinkedIn and blogs.
“More than ever, social interactions can have material impact on brand perception and reputation,” says Chris Perry, president of digital communications at Weber Shandwick. “It’s critical that clients understand how issues spread and how to react in as close to real time as possible.
“Communications leaders need to understand that it’s not a matter of if an online crisis is going to happen, but when—and be prepared. How a company responds to a crisis in today’s social environment is vastly different than even the recent past; a formal statement to the press no longer suffices. It’s about a living dialogue with a company’s constituents.”
The simulation begins with a crisis scenario devised by the drill team, but not shared with the client. From there, the team builds functioning and fictional offline versions of client social media properties and builds offline versions of outside social properties such as anti-fan Facebook pages and contrary blogs. During the drill, FireBell projects images that look like the organization’s social media profiles and the client can witness and respond to the crisis unfolding in those channels, preparing them for the inevitable 24/7 dialogue that occurs during a real crisis.