The Social PR Interaction – #Winning vs. Panicking

The world is a far different place in 2014 than it was even five years ago when it comes to consumer/brand relations, with consumers being more connected to their favorite brands than ever via social media. The constant interaction creates a double-edged sword, as it provides great opportunities in social listening for brands, but a blunder away from finding themselves in a dreaded full-fledged PR nightmare. The difference lies in how brands react through social channels.

  • Panicking: Take Exhibit A of what not to do when it comes to interaction via social media – Amy’s Baking Company. After being featured on an episode of Gordon Ramsey’s “Kitchen Nightmares,” the owners of Amy’s Baking Company took to social media to defend themselves against negative Yelp reviews, Reddit posts, and Facebook comments in a frenzy of expletive-filled rants and impassioned caps-locked responses. Realizing the gravity of some of those responses, the owners panicked and decided to issue a statement that all four of their social networks had been hacked, rather than doing some light damage control and apologizing.
  • #Winning: On the other hand, we have Exhibit B – Citi Bike. When Paull Young fell off of his bike on the way to work, he casually tweeted his khaki-tearing experience at Citi Bike with a hashtag #PLEASESENDPANTS. When Citi saw the tweets, they quickly sent Paull three gift cards for J.Crew, with the hashtag #PANTSFORPAULL. Of course, Paull then took to Twitter to thank both brands, resulting in some great coverage for each.

Avoiding the mishaps of Amy’s Baking is a matter of following some general rules when it comes to consumer interaction on social media:

  • Think of every interaction as an opportunity to further a person’s positive perception of the brand, or to change their minds in the case of negative circumstances.
  • In a crisis, don’t think an apology is a sign of weakness. Rather, your admission is an opportunity at redemption and a chance to move forward.

As the prevalence of social networks continues to grow, brands have greater opportunities to connect with consumers by taking advantage of social listening. It’s what these brands do with these opportunities that will determine whether they end up on a list of gaffes in 2014 or #winning the web.

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