But what happens when things don’t go to plan? Should brands stay and take the good with the bad or run in the opposite direction?
Fight or Flight?
Late last year, Qantas faced public outrage when it grounded its fleet and as soon as it did the social media space erupted. Qantas was inundated with comments on its Facebook wall and on Twitter from disgruntled customers and whilst Qantas was criticised for handling the situation with a lack of empathy, they chose not to silence their critics.
However Reckitt Benckiser makers of Mortein and Westpac chose a very different approach.
When Reckitt Benckiser chose to shut down its manufacturing plant in Sydney 2 weeks before it’s “Save or Kill Louie the Fly” campaign finished, consumers expressed their disgust on the Facebook page which had built up over 213,000 likes. As a result the manufacturing plant wasn’t the only thing to be shut down. Reckitt Benckiser said in a statement that they had listened to public feedback and out of respect they have chosen to prematurely finish the competition. Did Reckitt Benckiser really do it out of respect or was it the best way to mitigate the fallout from their plant closure?
Reckitt Benckiser isn’t the only brand to be left with a sour taste in its mouth when things don’t go to plan. This week Westpac has been accused of censoring negative comments on its Facebook page after it announced its decision to raise interest rates.
According to SMH, the bank has defended the practice, claiming that ”partisan views” could deter customers from researching its financial products on social media sites.
One way or no way
These examples really do beg the question if brands are ready to engage. Branded social channels provide consumers with a voice and an opportunity to engage in 2 way dialogue – but it seems some brands would sooner silence their critics when social is leveraged in ways in brands deem inappropriate.
Despite social being all the rage with marketers, brands need to consider if the social space is the right for their brand.
As Rob a commentator on Mumbrella nicely put it:
The easiest solution is that if you have no backbone to stand up and push back when your public engagement goes awry, then maybe just go back to basics and run a traditional media campaign that can be easily (and discreetly) pulled if things go bad for your business in the public domain.