Sensationalism is exaggerating and blowing things out of proportion, and it’s quite possibly the worst social media tactic. Doing these kinds of things in person, that’s one thing. Do them on social media and their effects are tenfold. On social media people are apt to take screen shots and post on other sites. Word spreads. It’s also not likely that those comments, shares and retweets will get deleted either, leaving a lasting record. Fighting fire with fire is also a horrible tactic, because escalating the situation just makes it worse and not better. These are the tactics of sensationalists, i.e. people who don’t understand social media.
Take Amy’s Baking Company Bakery Boutique and Bistro for instance, whose reputation already had enough damage done to it on “Kitchen Nightmares” http://bit.ly/189TLze . Their first Facebook post after that finale positioned Amy’s in the role of the victim. What they should have posted instead is something like “We are working on making our business better and appreciate your support through this difficult time. We’d love to hear from you on how we can better serve you and we hope to see you soon.” Otherwise known as the “JC Penney approach.” Changing that first post to something more like mine could have stemmed the tidal wave that was launched in their direction.
Even if it didn’t, as it didn’t change direction after they posted their victim post, the last thing that needed to happen was for them to start insulting customers in response. Another saying comes to mind and that’s “fanning the fire.” All their response postings did was spread the issue to other areas and to more and more people. So much for containment! They later claimed their accounts had been hacked, which is a poor cover-up and nowhere near an apology. When crisis management tactics are needed, there should already be a plan in place so you’re not responding emotionally http://bit.ly/16RD7nH. Handle it gracefully, listen, improve, those are all characteristics that will keep you in good graces and in business.
Then there’s Nutella, where instead of rewarding their biggest brand advocate they launched an attack of sorts http://bit.ly/Zhd9Yj. Ferrero, parent company of the Nutella brand, sent a cease and desist letter to the creator of World Nutella Day (held on Feb. 5th in case you were wondering). The creator of this holiday is Sara Rosso, an American blogger living in Italy who launched this day in 2007. Going back to that whole interconnectivity point I made earlier, well that came into play here too. Ferrero sent their cease and desist letter, Sara posted a note online and the comments came rolling in…to Ferrero of course.
The truth is, the comments weren’t off base. Why wouldn’t you reward someone who’s trying to spread your brand further and advocate on its behalf? Awareness of and love of a product come through many channels and Ferrero has hopefully learned this lesson now. But not before calling its initial response a “routine brand defense procedure that was activated as a result of some misuse of the Nutella brand on the fan page.” Quite the opposite, Ferrero, quite the opposite. Eventually the matter was dropped and they expressed their gratitude for fans like this on their Facebook page http://lat.ms/Z3YqxB. Too little too late? Only time will tell.
Good social media tactics reward efforts like those of the Nutella fan, invite customer feedback, listen and use it to improve. Oh…and they respond without getting over-emotional and combative. You’ve seen what bad social media tactics can do, what are your social media tactics like? How can you make social media work for you and not against you?