2008 isn’t quite over yet and there is still plenty of time for some company to do something completely stupid (we are sure somebody will) but we thought we would put out our list of companies that didn’t evolve to the rapidly changing social media climate in 2008 – it is survival of the fittest and these brands need to make some changes fast before they go extict…
The most recent example of a social media blunder is Motrin’s baby-carrying moms incident. Motrin failed to test their ad copy on mothers and soon found themselves in the middle of a Twitter tornado of negative tweets which soon spread to blogs and forums. They made a good move and apologized on their site. However, they never responded directly to the negative posts or reached out to the offended moms. Pulling down the commercial might have been good enough a few years ago but thanks to social media this blunder will live forever.
Buzz.io’s approach: As soon as negative posts leaked about the campaign – We would have known about it instantly because, well, that’s what we do – Motrin should have reached out to each and every tweet, blog post, and YouTube video and apologized. Admitting your mistake everywhere and quickly is the only way to suck out the venom. Next steps for Motrin? How about setting up a microcommunity of mommies and asking them for feedback? What about going to where the mommy communities are already talking and get engaged in that conversation. In order to prevent this from happening again do some crowdsourcing and ask Motrin users for help creating your next advertisement.
2. JC Penney
A third party produced a questionable commercial
with JC Penney’s logo and tag-line and submitted it to Cannes. This situation is a little different because there are so many parties involved. You have the victim, JC Penney, the former employee of Saatchi & Saatchi who made the scandalous commercial, and Epoch films who submitted the commercial to Cannes Lions.
Buzz.io’s approach: We really don’t know what to do do with this …. Talk to your PR firm? In a situation like this, you want to make sure that you have already been involved in the conversation. So when someone makes a naughty commercial and puts your name on it, you already have solid relationships to fall back on. Because of lower barriers to entry with cheap production costs and $500 HD cameras any company can easily get brandjacked. Our suggestion is that most of the time instead of fighting brandjacking you should try to embrace it an encourage it.
3. Johnson & Johnson
J&J held a three day conference for mommy bloggers called Camp Baby
. The conference was meant to reach web-enabled moms in a social context. There were three major problems with this.
- The moms were not allowed to bring their babies
- It was scheduled during BlogHer
- Two women were uninvited, one of which was speaking at BlogHer.
Buzz.io’s Approach: Don’t be stupid – Problem social media is about being social and about having relationships. This is the social media equivalent of being a total byatch in high school and then trying to make up for it by having a really cool sweet 16 party. If you are going to reach out to mothers and try to build relationships, you should probably do it more than one time. J&J didn’t have a previous relationship with these women but somehow this conference was supposed to make that happen. We would have been talking with blogging moms long before and forever after the conference. You can’t fake a relationship.
4. Burger King
A BK executive
used his daughter’s email account to say tomato pickers were being paid decent wages, despite allegations otherwise. When a reporter called his daughter to ask about the email, she ratted out the old man.
Buzz.io’s approach: Crisis communication is a big deal – lying is a bigger deal. If you are screwing up by screwing over your tomato picking crew. Then admit it, apologize and solve the problem. If it really is just an allegation then you should go to every conversation online being completely transparent and state the facts (you better be damn sure of yourself if you are going to take this approach). One more thing – Make sure your PR firm has incorporated some social media strategies into their crisis communication plans.
A prominent blogger emailed Target about an ad she found offensive
only to have target reply, “Unfortunately we are unable to respond to your inquiry because Target does not participate in nontraditional outlets.” The concern was never addressed but Target says they are looking into speaking with bloggers. We thought this was too ridiculous to be believed so we talked to our favorite PR people and they said this is a really common position taken not just by Target but a lot of stupid companies. Unbelievable.
Buzz.io’s Approach: Once again “Don’t Be Stupid” Talk to bloggers, commenter’s, people in forums and message boards – anyone who will listen. It is ridiculous that a company like Target is not taking advantage of nontraditional media, which is really mainstream at this point.
Consumer generated site iReport (operated by CNN) ran a story that Steve Jobs had a heart attack
. Despite the story being untrue, CNN picked it up and Apple’s stock took a dip. Within a few minutes, Apple lost about 10% of its market cap. When news spread that the story was false, stock prices went back up to normal.
Buzz.io’s Approach: Since Buzz.io responds to online conversations in real time, we would have responded to the false news story almost immediately. Especially with a company like Apple, it is important to be constantly aware of what is being said about you in order to avoid the losses Apple suffered within just minutes. BTW – losing billions of dollars in 10 minutes makes our service look really cheap.
7. Louis Vuitton
Artist Nadia Piesner created an anti-genocide shirt with a a likeness of an LV hand bag
. The shirt shows an impoverished Darfur child holding an LV bad and ugly dog. LV ended up filing a lawsuit against the artist. It was an obvious jab at our facination with skinny celebs instead of things that really matter.
Buzz.io’s Approach: This would have been a great opportunity for LV to get involved in the conversations about the problems taking place in Darfur. They could have shown that their company cared about world problems and been part of the solution, as opposed to a company that sues artists for trying to raise awareness.
8. Exxon Mobil
Buzz.io’s Approach: Admittedly, Exxon should have been more involved in social media. Now that they have been brandjacked, they should be working proactively on social sites, especially Twitter, to correct misinformation and become part of regular conversation from now on. My theory is that “Janet” was actually Exxon experimenting in social media, when push came to shove she was pushed aside like a red headed step child – if so bad move.
Marvel tried to shut down a special screening of Iron Man hosted by Techcrunch
. After all of the legal fees, the special screening took place and Marvel issued an apology to Techcrunch.
Buzz.io’s Approach: It turns out that the attempt to shut down the screening was all due to miscommunication. Our thought – don’t throw around legal threats until you have all the information. Otherwise, people are going to post your legal notes all over the internet, which means you will have more cleaning up to do later. Additional advice – don’t screw with tech crunch or Arrington. I would say something about ego here but I am trying to follow my own advice.
10. Proctor & Gamble
P&G’s social media strategist assumed the needs and wants of their customers and developed a site
off of those assumptions. The site was loaded with features and functionality that were thought to be what customers wanted only to find that the site was off target.
Buzz.io’s Approach: As with all things, you should be listening to your customers. This is especially important when you are developing a site that is supposed to appeal to them. The first step in effective communication is always listening.