Brands Ignore Negative Social Buzz at Their Peril

“In a world of social sites that allow consumers to post photos, videos and opinions about companies and brands, disparaging comments and other content detrimental to brands are bound to bubble up,” said a new eMarketer report “Dealing with Negative Buzz on Social Media.” “And that content can stay online forever.”

In February, American Express found that 46% of US internet users it surveyed had turned to companies’ social media sites to vent their frustrations about poor experiences.

“This buildup of negative buzz on social media can have a significant impact on brands because social media is more public and moves faster than customer complaints via traditional channels,” said eMarketer.

Top 5 Reasons US Internet Users Use Social Media for Customer Service, Feb 2012 (% of respondents)

Moreover, companies now have accounts and brand pages on so many different social networks that it is hard to keep up. “Having a plan in place for dealing specifically with negative buzz and then constantly monitoring, tracking and responding to comments on social media are two important ways to deal with negative situations on social media,” said eMarketer. But implementing these precautions requires integration between teams within a company, expanded thinking about what words and issues to track, and, in some cases, tasking outside companies and vendors to provide monitoring services.

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Savvy Social Media Users Influence Peer Purchases

For consumers, the golden rule is “buyer beware.” For marketers, it should perhaps be: “beware of socially adept consumers.” New research indicates that consumers who have used social media for service wield far greater influence among their peers.

Specifically, they tell significantly more people about their service experiences, and say they’ would spend 21% more with companies that deliver great service — compared to 13% on average, according to the 2012 American Express “Global Customer Service Barometer.”

This relatively small group of consumers is extremely engaged and vocal, according to Jim Bush, EVP of World Service at American Express.

“They … tell three times as many people about positive service experiences compared to the general population,” he said of social media users. “Ultimately, getting service right with these social media-savvy consumers can help a business grow.”

Unfortunately for many marketers, the survey — conducted in the U.S. and 10 other countries — also reveals a sorry state of service in general.

For Brands, Social Media Shows Returns but Measurement Hurdles Remain

Executives see improvements in marketing and sales efforts, and market share gains as a result of well-planned campaigns

C-suite executives are increasingly convinced of the benefits of engaging with their customers on social media platforms. A February 2012 survey of 329 senior executives in North America by management and digital consulting firm PulsePoint Group and the Economist Intelligence Unit found that the vast majority of companies who had invested in social media saw a positive shift in their bottom line as a result.

Executives who said their companies had established an extensive social media presence reported a return on investment that was more than four times that of companies with little or no social network engagement activity

Companies should use social media to create spaces for consumers to have meaningful conversations with employees and other stakeholders. Almost seven in 10 respondents said they had seen a spike in their sales by letting customers talk about their brands on social media platforms, even if some of that dialogue was negative. This kind of approach builds trust and credibility with consumers, potentially transforming them into brand advocates whose value is immense, if difficult to measure.

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Demystifying social media

As the marketing power of social media grows, it no longer makes sense to treat it as an experiment. Here’s how senior leaders can harness social media to shape consumer decision making in predictable ways.

Executives certainly know what social media is. After all, if Facebook users constituted a country, it would be the world’s third largest, behind China and India. Executives can even claim to know what makes social media so potent: its ability to amplify word-of-mouth effects. Yet the vast majority of executives have no idea how to harness social media’s power. Companies diligently establish Twitter feeds and branded Facebook pages, but few have a deep understanding of exactly how social media interacts with consumers to expand product and brand recognition, drive sales and profitability, and engender loyalty.

We believe there are two interrelated reasons why social media remains an enigma wrapped in a riddle for many executives, particularly nonmarketers. The first is its seemingly nebulous nature. It’s no secret that consumers increasingly go online to discuss products and brands, seek advice, and offer guidance. Yet it’s often difficult to see where and how to influence these conversations, which take place across an ever-growing variety of platforms, among diverse and dispersed communities, and may occur either with lightning speed or over the course of months. Second, there’s no single measure of social media’s financial impact, and many companies find that it’s difficult to justify devoting significant resources—financial or human—to an activity whose precise effect remains unclear.

What we hope to do here is to demystify social media. We have identified its four primary functions—to monitor, respond, amplify, and lead consumer behavior—and linked them to the journey consumers undertake when making purchasing decisions. Being able to identify exactly how, when, and where social media influences consumers helps executives to craft marketing strategies that take advantage of social media’s unique ability to engage with customers. It should also help leaders develop, launch, and demonstrate the financial impact of social-media campaigns

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3 PR lessons from Heineken’s crisis

Photos of a dogfight with prominent Heineken branding went viral. The beer maker has denied knowledge of the event, but that hasn’t stopped the criticism.

There’s crisis control, and then there’s the ordeal that Heineken is facing.

The beer maker has been slammed in traditional and social media since photos of a dogfight with prominent Heineken branding went viral.

Heineken has denied knowledge of the event, which apparently occurred at a Mongolian nightclub in 2011. Any sane person would realize right away that Heineken is probably not sponsoring dog fighting. But it wouldn’t be the Internet if everyone were of sound mind.

Naturally, the masses took to Heineken’s Facebook page to berate the company. What could it do? Blindsided by the photo, Heineken launched into action.

On Tuesday, Heineken posted twice to its Facebook page—first at 2:00 a.m. Central Time and again at 5:44 a.m. The company moved quickly to investigate and craft a response, which can be found on its website and its Facebook page.

Here are few lessons we can take from Heineken’s misfortune:

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7 Lessons From The Nikon Social Media Faux Pas

In the world of social media you have to be careful as to who posts on your walls, what they say, how it can be interpreted and what the consequences can be.

Nikon, the famed photographic equipment manufacturer learned the lesson the hard way.

Back in September of 2011, a the following post appeared on Nikon’s Facebook page:

“A photographer is only as good as the equipment he uses, and a good lens is essential to taking good pictures! Do any of our Facebook fans use any of the NIKKOR lenses? Which is your favorite and what types of situations do you use it for?”

Now, anybody involved to some degree in photography knows that a statement like this will infuriate most of the photographers who read it.

I understand what the Nikon employee may have been trying to say, but the way he or she said it came out totally wrong.  It is true that a good camera and good lenses will make a big difference on the quality of the photograph, but at the end of the day, the talent of the photographer remains the key.

Withing hours, the post received a couple of thousands of comments, something most brands would rejoice at, unless, like in this case, the comments were overwhelmingly  negative and the brand had just invested a lot of money on the launch of a new camera.

What can we learn from Nikon?

1-Monitor the conversations about your brand

2-Who you allow to post on your wall is important, make certain they understand and relate to your community

3-Before posting, think about your post a few times.  Is that the message you want to send out?  In doubt, ask a few colleagues, insure it’s congruent with your communication and marketing message

4-Remember that it does not take long for a post with a lot of comments on a business page to attract the attention of search engines, influential websites and blogs and be indexed.  Do a search for the Nikon Facebook page and you will see several pages of websites and blogs with negative reactions to the post, not something you want your community to see.  Bad news travels faster than good and stick longer.

5-When you put your foot in your mouth, don’t wait to see 2000 negative comments to react (it took Nikon over 12hrs to apologize), apologize, do it quickly, sincerely and repeatedly.  If you take into account that a Facebook user has an average of 150 friends, at least 300,000 Facebook users saw the post, that’s not counting the re postings and shares.The kind of exposure no brand wants.

6-Reach out to the blogs and websites that covered the story

7-Building a reputation takes time, damaging it only a few seconds and repairing it a long time.

What are your thoughts?

 

 

Social media is about social science not technology.

A Pivot study conducted in 2011, asked brand managers and marketers if they had a clear picture of who their Social Consumer is. An astounding 77 percent said yes.

When asked specifically if respondent organizations asked Social Consumers what they expect from engagement, most responded, “No.” This is intriguing because we have 77 percent of organizations who say they know what their Social Consumers want, but 53 percent haven’t really asked. They do not—cannot—really know how to deliver value in social and mobile networks. On the other hand, 35 percent did note that they asked Social Consumers about their expectations.

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