Do you remember the days when company interactions with customers would be sent in uniform templates?
They were robotic and carefully calculated; it was almost as though they were worried about showing any signs of personality. But as social media networks have increased in popularity, companies have finally realised the importance of taking a more relaxed approach when it comes to engaging with customers.
We recently heard about the entertaining Twitter conversation between Tesco, Yorkshire Tea, Cadburys and Jaffa Cakes. It was deemed ‘the best Twitter conversation ever’ by Buzzfeed – this is a great example of brands working together to create a successful social media interaction. Unfortunately some brands’ tweets can go horribly wrong. We’ve all heard about at least one disastrous Twitter conversation between a customer and a brand that has led to controversy. Before the company can retract the comment, it’s already spread far and wide across the internet, appeared on our Facebook homepage, Twitter feeds and is set to be turned into a humorous meme, YouTube clip and, worst of all, appear on Buzzfeed’s lists! A PR agency’s worst nightmare, right?
We all remember earlier this year when a ‘very young and inexperienced’ journalist from the Evening Standard tweeted a picture of the embargoed Budget 2013 front page before George Osborne had even addressed the details with members of Parliament. Of course, the paper apologised for the mistake, immediately suspended the junior journalist and swiftly moved on from this mishap; tips that every PR guru would advise.
But nowadays it seems as though brands are actually devising their own controversial Twitter catastrophes in order to hit the headlines. In the case of Burger King, the fast food chain’s Twitter account was hacked, the account name was changed to McDonalds and tweets began to promote their rival burger provider. By the time Burger King had control of their account again they had gained 30,000 new followers and people started to question whether this was actually a tactical ploy to gain followers? If so it certainly worked!
However, this isn’t a campaign we would advise for every brand. It takes a lot of confidence to pull this off and when I think of Twitter stunts and confidence I can’t help but think of Kanye West’s recent Twitter outburst about Jimmy Kimmel. Then we have O2’s cheeky tweets to its followers when the network had gone down. Both campaigns were mild enough not to damage their reputation but close enough to have us all talking and cause controversy, subsequently receiving coverage across the globe.
But we do need to ask, how effective are these social media “blunders”? We all love gossiping about the latest Twitter wars and controversies, sure it results in brand exposure, but I fear it will get to a point where we, as consumers, are fed up of engaging with a brand that is constantly controlling its brand image with childish twitter mistakes.
We’re now living in a world where we are bombarded with clever marketing gimmickry. Maybe we just want a brand to be real with us. Is that really too much to ask?