Meshwest’s marketing panel – Leigh Himel, owner of Gravity Ltd.; Greg Hounslow, Emerging Media Advisor at WestJet, and Sarah Dickinson, SVP, Strategy at Blast Radius – agreed on one key point: Where social media is concerned, silence is definitely not golden.

During a crisis, you need to act quickly – even if only to say “we’re on it and we’ll be back with an answer.” Silence on Twitter or Facebook during a crisis constitutes a “fail” for your company. Legal departments “kill innovation” because they need to read every tweet and cut certain words.

The challenge is this: Marketing via social media is about relationships – and relationships are messy, complicated and involve risk. Legal departments exist to manage risk, so it takes a day instead of an hour to get a response out.

Some businesses, like WestJet, operate within a highly regulated industry. This is both a blessing and a curse: Transport Canada guidelines dictates what Greg can say – this also means that what he says has to match those guidelines. “I can’t make stuff up, I have to go and find the answer.”

If something major happens, timeliness is important. “Your company name + “fail” on a hashtag is not good!”