Communication is key

Without conversation, social media is just another way for companies to plaster their goods all over our feeds, much like advertising on the television and radio. When businesses utilise two way communication, not only does it allow customers to voice their opinions, but the reach of the response also helps to bring in new customers. As we’ve seen in my previous posts, the lack of this communication has failed businesses in the past, for this post I want to focus on the effects that two way has had on businesses that have utilised it, the good, the bad and the turnarounds.

Many start up businesses are finding success by using the voice of avid social media users to sell their products. One of these brands is Sigma Beauty, a company founded only in 2008 that ended last year with 25 million dollars in sales. A large part of their success stems from their savvy social media use, using successful YouTubers to sell their products for them. Not only does Sigma get more customers, the YouTubers also get 10% for every sale from their affiliate links. This is an extremely effective form of marketing, as viewers of YouTube look up to the online stars as friends, not distant celebrities.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work out so well. Last year, the New York Police Department invited twitter uses to share their experiences with the law enforcement by using the hashtag #myNYPD. Whilst they had good intentions, they didn’t expect the response to highlight the existing police brutality issues within the force. Instead of responding to this turn of events, they ignored it, which ultimately led to more mistrust surrounding the force.

My final example revolves around the ride sharing app Uber. During the Sydney siege earlier in the year, users were extremely shocked to find that they were being charged a fare increase, due to the heightened use of the app when people were rushing from the city. Instead of ignoring users complaints about their automatic procedure of the rides becoming more expensive during busy times, Uber quickly responded to the complaints and eventually removed the fare increase, a decision that they regretted not doing immediately. Whilst this did reach the media, the negative attention quickly passed due to their immediate response to what their customers were saying, and making changes accordingly.

I’d like to finish this post by highlighting the importance of communicating with your customers, either through social media icons their customers trust or by directly responding to them, as this can be crucial to the future of your business.

The Fine Line Between Right and Wrong – Web 2.0 and PR

There is no doubt that running a business has changed rapidly since the inception of Web 2.0, businesses now have to somewhat operate 24/7. Posting original content and keeping in constant contact with consumers is detrimental to a businesses success, as well as keeping relevant to what else is going on around the world.  With this rapidly flowing social media, it’s easy to post your opinion without giving it close consideration. In a recent documentary, Youtube content creator Thomas, more commonly known by his username ‘TomSka’, noted that one of the benefits of both Youtube and Social Media was that he could turn to his audience to peer-review his content, in order to avoid posting anything incorrect or offensive.  Examples of these #fails pop up more frequently than not, and often go viral. The most recent example of this is Woolworth’s Anzac advertising, where the supermarket giant paired portraits of Anzac soldiers with the slogan ‘fresh in our memories’, playing on their everyday slogan ‘The fresh food people’. Followers of their Facebook page were encouraged to generate profile pictures and cover photos of these nameless soldiers to commemorate them, however they received enormous backlash from both the public and ANZAC organisations, with words such as ‘disgusting’ and ‘disrespectful’ being used frequently. Unfortunately for Woolies, it became apparent that their sheer lack of thought wasn’t their only issue,  after completely removing the campaign online the PR agency behind the campaign, Carrspace, went temporarily underground, only to resurface with no mention of their work with Woolworths, without realising that cached versions of their website could still in fact be viewed.

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As we’ve seen in the past, such as with the DiGiorno debacle, the best way to move on is to acknowledge your wrong doings and apologise. Whilst Woolworths has apologised for offending anyone, they remain adamant that the incident was not a marketing campaign, digging themselves into a deeper hole.

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Ironically, Carrspace prides themselves as being an ‘Experiential Agency’, let’s hope that they do learn from this and when/if they recover they own up to their wrong doings!

To end this post, I will leave you with a one minute video which highlights how a business should respond in the midst of a social media crisis, perhaps Woolies and Carrspace should be watching this one?

The Art of Complaining

It comes as no surprise that the inception of social media, including platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, has drastically changed the way the public relations industry operates. In order to succeed, a business must not only have a website or their contact details available online, they must also maintain and utilise a strong social media presence.

This has become increasingly obvious due to the way that consumers voice their concerns to businesses. It has gone from phoning a call centre, pressing numerous keys and waiting on hold, to instantly communicating with the business via their social media profiles. Not only is this quick and effortless, it is also public; meaning public relation practitioners can no longer hush these concerns.

A brands response to these concerns has a direct impact on their success. Businesses that don’t meet their customer’s social media desires are quickly being left behind. This goes for any brand, big or small.

I will end this post with an example and a note on the Black Milk Clothing scandal, where they went from this

To this, all thanks to social media.

Bonnie Robinson