Social media provides a fast-paced environment for public commentary. More than ever companies need social media policy and procedures in place to deal with public sentiment, be it negative or even, as I found out this week, overly positive.
First up, Groupon pull offensive superbowl ad
Examining how companies deal with damage control is a valuable lesson for business of any size. Groupon, known for brokering group deal discounts, recently suffered enormous backlash (much via social media) for their Superbowl ad.
The ad was intended to poke fun at themselves whilst raising awareness for an area of global concern: Tibet. But most simply didn’t ‘get it’. So what did Groupon do to make it right?
- Groupon CEO Andrew Mason blogged to explain their actions
- Publicly retracted the ads that caused offence
- Offered a transparent apology (accepting responsibility):
“We hate that we offended people, and we’re very sorry that we did … I personally take responsibility; although we worked with a professional ad agency, in the end, it was my decision to run the ads.”
The lesson for all business is that in the face of public criticism, even if you’re adamant that your intentions have been misunderstood, digging-in isn’t the way forward. Neither is erasing it and pretending it didn’t happen. And shouting down your critics is the worst thing you can do.
With reasoned responses, delivered back via social media channels, and acceptance of responsibility Groupon have, in my opinion, safely ridden the wave of social media scrutiny by honouring the principles of damage control–demonstrate integrity by being honest. And the proof is in the stream. Very few outraged tweets about Groupon flying around.
The Australian Federal court this week ruled that a company had to pay fines and costs after the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) took them to court over the publication of misleading testimonials on their social media sites.
The interesting part of this case is that the testimonials were not written by the company themselves. They were written by third parties (described as clients of the company).The issue being that the enthused testimonials were misleading/false and should have been moderated, if not removed, from the companies pages by the company in question. In not doing so the company therefore became the publisher and liable for action.
Hmmm. I’m certain that this is a small part of a larger, ongoing case (stemming back to 2009), but it’s another instance where law meets social media and the legal ramifications are huge for the entire industry.
Social media communities thrive on a referral system. There are many tools you can use to analyse and track these mentions of your company but responding/refuting each is a mammoth task(particularly on Twitter). Not to mention how you implement policy to manage the difference between over-enthusiasm and sarcasm, or an unfounded claim that the writer genuinely believes to be true.
For business this is another warning to get those social media policies into place, and into practice. You are now expected to build a loyal fan base, and make sure what they are saying about you is true. Be careful what you Retweet folks …
Oh, Commonwealth Bank. What were you thinking?
This really is about a company building a social media policy to get its staff to track its social media mentions.
“Many customer issues and complaints raised through social media channels have been resolved through staff tip-offs and we encourage our staff to continue to alert us to this feedback so we can provide customer support and outcomes,”
But the policy is interpreted, rightly or wrongly, as the employees being asked to “dob in” anyone (including other staff) who make a negative comment–no matter how off-the cuff…
Umm, CBA haven’t you heard of online monitoring services?
It’s understandable that the employees think this is a breach of fairness/privacy and the CBA have agreed to review the matter, but that didn’t stop the story hitting the press of the world. And that means the CBA has some serious negative brand equity to deal with.
By the way
If I was a CBA employee I would have sent these negative news-story links to the head of social media policy toot-sweet … and I would have signed them,