With the growing trend of social media, more companies and brands know they need to integrate it somewhere and somehow, but they don’t really know too much about it or how to go around it. With the added thought of putting their brand and products out on the web and letting people say what they want uncensored, well, it can be quite daunting. It results in companies and brands wanting to get on the social media wagon but with as much control as possible. However, the more they try to control it, the worse the web and its users can retaliate.
A great example of this is Greenpeace and Mister Splashy Pants. In short, Greenpeace wanted to name a whale they are tracking and asked the internet what to name the whale, the internet picked Mister Splashy Pants, Greenpeace wasn’t as keen on the name and decided to extend the competition, hoping for another name to win. This generated huge online and offline campaigning to get Mister Splashy Pants as the name for the whale. Instead of curling in horror and withdrawing the competition, Greenpeace embraced it and made an entire marketing campaign with Mr Splashy Pants (for the in-depth and very good TedTalk by Alexis Ohanian, click here).
What seems to make things worse online is when companies try to manipulate the online social conversations to try ‘fix things’. One of the most recent examples of this can be seen by the recent attempts from chick-fil-a. They have had huge backlash in not supporting gay rights in America and in attempt to fix this created a fake profile to comment on their Facebook updates to defend the company (however, they deny these allegations, read the article here). They received a negative comment on their Facebook page as Jim Henson stopped working with them after finding out they were against gay rights and as a result they stopped giving out the puppets in their kid’s meals.
Nevertheless, companies have proven they can have fun and join the online communities with a little bit of banter. It doesn’t always have to be a serious approach or to only combat negativity.
Walmart has embraced odd comments and replied to all sorts of questions. People have enjoyed these so much they have been submitted and started trending on the internet on all sorts of meme sites like Failblog and 9GAG. Check out some examples below taken from ones submitted to Failbook.
Yet, just on Failbook alone these have been shared and commented on like wildfire. The internet appreciates Walmart’s sense of humour. Walmart currently have over 18,500,000 Facebook likes and just looking quickly at their Facebook page, more and more fans are posting on their wall with silly comments just hoping to get a reply as well.
So while the online social media world can be very daunting, especially with the idea of losing control, it cannot be controlled to the extent companies want to. The more companies try to control it by deleting negative comments, creating fake profiles to ‘big up’ their company or even extending competition deadlines because they are not happy with the voted winner, the more the internet will lash back.
Instead, why not take a leaf out of Greenpeace and Walmart, embrace what the online communities throw at you and have fun with it. It could even result in better marketing results than planned.