Back in February, mobile telecommunications giant, Vodafone, hit the headlines after their Twitter account was ‘breached’, and an employee posted this offensive message. In a matter of seconds, the brand’s status and reputation had been compromised to the extent that they were quickly grovelling to the Twitterverse: ‘We’re really sorry. Dealing with that internally. Please keep your faith in us.’
Not long after, Nestle was hit with a similar social media blow.
For the many businesses opting to use social media networks as an effective marketing platform, the first episode no doubt demonstrated that in the wrong hands it can prove disastrous, and the second that, even in the right hands, things can quickly go awry – and there are no end of websites and ‘gurus’ offering advice on the best way to deal with this tricky medium.
In terms of branding, it’s not enough to simply ‘be there’ – interacting with fans, followers and users is vital. A very good friend of mine works for a high-profile portfolio of women’s online titles as community manager, and spends a large part of her day doing just that. In her professional capacity then, she was as horrified as I was in my personal capacity to learn that More! magazine had managed to screw this up in a fairly spectacular fashion.
Twitter user, @sequentially (who blogs about fashion – and recently, this Twitter debacle – here), had voiced her indignation of a particular More! feature in the following tweets:
More! magazine then jumped on this, tweeting the following:
Fair enough, @Sequentially had been a bit vicious in her original tweet, and indeed many might argue the old adage ‘If you’ve nothing nice to say, then say nothing at all’. However, the response of @moremagazine, in my mind, smacks of childish playground politics. @Sequentially has, in her own blog, disregarded any suggestion of cyber bullying, but to my mind, actively encouraging the persecution of one individual is just that. Furthermore, I – and a number of other women I’ve spoken to about this – feel that this episode only serves to reinforce the More! magazine stereotype: consumerism focused, few features of real substance or journalistic quality, materialistic, catty, shallow.
To further compound the issue, a More! editorial staff member posted this Facebook status on the public More! Facebook page, lamenting the audacity of readers who dare express their views of the magazine. My community manager friend was apoplectic with fury at this. One of the hardest parts of her job, she says, is dealing with negative feedback from readers. This can often take the form of very personal digs which have reduced her to tears on more than one occasion. But her ability to bite her lip and reply ‘Thanks for your feedback. We’ll pass it on to the editors’ is a testament to her professionalism. Furthermore, it’s this very feedback – negative and unpleasant as it may be – that can prove valuable to brands looking to engage a wider market.
Unfortunately, though, in More!‘s case, they’ve only used this feedback to instigate an ego-boost for themselves and deter both the previous and potential readers that left such behaviour in playground.