Social media: The good, the bad and the ugly

For a bit of fun I thought I would look at corporate/brand social media successes and blunders.

Let’s take Waitrose as an example. The food retailer invited Twitter users to finish the following sentence ‘I shop at Waitrose because…….’ using the hastag, #WaitroseReasons. Whilst there were some honest tweets, some took the opportunity to poke fun at the brands ‘middle class’ image with replies such as:

  • I shop at Waitrose because the butler’s on holiday
  • I shop at Waitrose because I once heard a 6yr old boy in the shop say “Daddy does Lego have a ‘t’ at the end, like Merlot?”
  • I shop at Waitrose because it makes me feel important and I absolutely detest being surrounded by poor people.

Waitrose were slow to respond to the ‘funny’ tweets. Eventually they did tweet “Thanks for all the genuine and funny #WaitroseReasons tweets. We always like to hear what you think and enjoyed reading most of them.”  The shy response from Waitrose indicates that the company hadn’t foreseen the potential backlash when they put the first tweet out.

Even charities can make the odd social media blunder; an American Red Cross employee accidently sent a personal tweet from the corporate account. The employee accidently tweeted that they intended to get drunk using the hashtag #gettingslizzerd.

Rather than merely deleting the tweet, the Red Cross came back with this inspired response:

“We’ve deleted the rogue tweet but rest assured the Red Cross is sober and we’ve confiscated the keys.”

The Red Cross then went on to address the tweet on their blog, explaining that they are a 130 year old humanitarian organisation; we’re also made up of human beings. The charities followers showed a positive response and some even pledged donations whilst using the hashtag #gettingslizzerd to show their support.

We’ve all asked to speak to a customer services advisor’s manager. But imagine if the CEO addressed your concerns directly? That’s exactly what happened to Mark Nei when he took to twitter to complain about Vodacom (South African Telecommunications Company), when the networks service went down.

Rather than a standard response from the company’s twitter account, Pieter Uys (CEO) took to his personal twitter account to reply.

And this is my favourite example of how a brand can use social media to address customer service issues.

Back in July O2 experienced something of a crisis; a lot of O2’s customers couldn’t use their mobile phones to make calls. As expected the irate customers took to twitter in order to vent their frustrations with the telecoms provider, some in a particularly rude manor.

Below are some of the ‘tamer’ tweets that they had to deal with. You can see from these tweets that the person in charge of the Twitter account that day took a humoured approach to their responses.

Not all companies are as sucessful as the examples above when it comes to addressing their customers grievences via social media. So I have handpicked some of the bad and quite frankly ugly responses.

First up it has to be Chrysler, Similar to the American Red Cross blunder the account manager accidently sent a tweet from the Chrysler account which was intended to come from his personal account.

I think it’s important to mention that the twitter account was outsourced to an agency. Chrysler came under futher scruitinity for their inablitlity to make light of the situation and an attempted cover up of the situation.

Chrysler decided to delete the tweet and claimed their account had been comprimised. Eventually they did ‘fess up on their blog and admitted that the comment had come from an employee at their social media agency. Needless to say the contract between Chrysler and the agency was terminated.

The next attempt at social suicide comes from a BBQ restaurant. This time it was the manager that took to twitter and Facebook to relive his frustrations over a particular diner.

Not only did he use inappropriate language and left abusive comments but in addition uploaded a photo of the customer in question. There is a complicate back story here. According to the manager the customer did not leave a tip. However the customer insists she did tip the staff and the abuse was down to a previous unfavourable review she left about the restaurant.

The restaurant did remove the posts, but as with anything online it was too late the comments had already been shared and captured.

Now for the pièce de résistance, Kenneth Cole (a fashion retailer) tweeted a particularly insensitive message at a particularly inappropriate time.  In order to celebrate their new spring collection they posted the following tweet.

As most of us would anticipate, a tweet like this caused outrage across the internet. It was even given its own hashtag #KennethColetweets. An hour after Kenneth Cole sent the tweet they followed it up with:

They then went onto apologise on their Facebook page, unfortunately the damage had already been done.  The information was shared across the internet and Kenneth Cole watched their reputation go up in flames right before them.

Social media accounts are run by actual people, so on occasions accidents will happen. What can we learn from these examples?

  • Recovery of such occasions is important
  • Triple check which account you are using
  • Don’t say anything you wouldn’t say to your boss/customers
  • World ‘issues’ aren’t amusing

What’s your favourite social media blunder? Please feel free to leave a comment below, email me or tweet me @realradiojodi

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