Social media is usually a boon to businesses because it offers the ability to spread brand awareness amongst targeted audience in a fast and cost-effective manner. But, this free-to-access, open and unrestricted form of digital media could also turn into a curse by causing businesses to suffer from potential social media disasters as could be seen in case of a number of brands with social media presence on numerous occasions before.
While there are stories of brands (e.g. Greggs, Burger King etc.) that went ahead and turned horrendous social media slips into something good, there are also stories of brands (e.g. J P Morgan, British Gas, British Airways etc.) that were not able to assess the social media crisis situation well enough so as to take the required steps to prevent the crisis from damaging their brands further.
In case of any social media disaster, what counts the most is the calibre and experience of the team that is managing the crisis. Equally important is the set of procedures that the team has put in place to deal with such crisis. Please note that social media slips are bound to happen because we all know that ‘To err is human’. Hence, you should draw a well thought-out crisis management plan in advance with the help of a team of social media professionals to be able to cope up with any social media backlash as a sensible business. In this context, Winston Bao Lord (president of Venga) rightly says, “I think you can’t play out every scenario because you just don’t know, but you can plan out certain buckets to be prepared. In every industry you can always identify potential PR disasters.”
Severity of any social media backlash is something that social media professionals must ponder upon while dealing with any social media disaster. A brand might find itself at the centre of either a very simple social media fail such as posting of any harmless link to funny video or a personal message on business accounts, or a very horrendous social media tornado, such as inappropriate opinion, insensitive statement, early release, false reward and hacking, that could seriously put the brand image to jeopardy. While the first type of social media fail is less severe and easy to rectify, the latter type is extremely severe and very hard to fix. Hence, you have a strong reason to deploy a team of extremely good social media professionals who could help your brand recover from any social media mishap smoothly.
Now, we shall discuss below two social media PR disasters that happened with two specific brands recently, and you would be surprised to see how one brand tried to defend the crisis in such a way that failed to placate many outraged people on social media while the other brand happened to snatch triumph from the jaws of its social media slip.
Social Media Disaster: Times Of India Daily Newspaper (#IStandWithDeepikaPadukone)
On 14th September, 2014, Times Of India tweeted a picture of a leading bollywood actress, named Deepika Padukone, that was linked to a online photo gallery with the caption saying “OMG: Deepika Padukone’s cleavage show”.
Supposedly India’s ‘LEADING’ newspaper and this is ‘NEWS’!!?? pic.twitter.com/D3wiVVXuyM
— Finding Fanny (@deepikapadukone) September 14, 2014
This tweet from so-called responsible Indian daily got Deepika Padukone up in arms against the post and she responded to the national daily newspaper saying “YES! I am a Woman. I have breasts AND a cleavage! You got a problem!!??”
YES!I am a Woman.I have breasts AND a cleavage! You got a problem!!?? — Finding Fanny (@deepikapadukone) September 14, 2014
In order to tackle the situation, Times of India tweeted to enraged Deepika saying “It’s a compliment! You look so great that we want to make sure everyone knew! :)”
Times of India’s one-tweet response to Deepika’s outrage did nothing but add to the anger of social media followers and supporters of Deepika Padukone. In response to Times of India’s reply to Deepika, @sidmallya said “And the @TimesofIndia response may just have to go down as one of the most idiotic, shambolic and stupid responses of all time. Bravo”
And the @TimesofIndia response may just have to go down as one of the most idiotic, shambollic and stupid responses of all time. Bravo
— Sid (@sidmallya) September 14, 2014
If we take a look at the whole incident which attracted more than 25000 tweets from the fans and supporters of Deepika Padukone against Times of India over a period of just two days, we will see that Times of India hardly did anything worthwhile to placate the angry social media mob. Twitter was still trending with tweets from the supporters and fans of Deepika Padukone expressing their outrage against the daily newspaper with hashtag #IStandWithDeepikaPadukone even two days after the social media crisis broke out. Let us have a look at some of those tweets below:
Appalled….shocked and disgusted at the level of disrespect shown..Deepika or any women in the world cannot and should not stand for this!! — Karan Johar (@karanjohar) September 14, 2014
Complimenting a lady is a grace reserved for gentlemen! I stand on a tall tall chair and applaud you @deepikapadukone
— Boman Irani (@bomanirani) September 15, 2014
It is the high camera angle not a low neckline. What is low is the standard of journalism. Downright SICK!!! @deepikapadukone
— Anubhav Sinha (@anubhavsinha) September 14, 2014
The credibility of social media team of this renowned daily is definitely questionable. The team seemed to sit and watch the whole event unfolding without making any reasonable attempts to manage the social media PR crisis. There are some very serious questions to mull over in this case.
- Did the social media team assess the crisis in terms of volume of comments and potential impact?
- Did the team have sufficient number of people to respond to the deluge of negative comments?
- Did the team have any action plan about how such comments need be dealt with by the deployed members of staff (if any)?
- Did they have any idea that maximum responses to comments could show their caring attitude towards the audience which, in turn, could calm the angry audience down?
- Did the public face of Times of India consider addressing the masses about the issue via its newspaper or social media accounts?
- Did they provide frequent updates on how the issue was being dealt with? Did they consider pausing their regular updates until the issue was sorted out?
If social media team at Times of India had worked out a concrete social media PR crisis management plan in advance, it could have dealt with the situation in much better way.
What social media fans and supporters expect in such PR disaster situation is that the brand facing the social media crisis takes the ownership of the issue and fixes it. In this context, Winston Bao Lord (President of Venga) says “It’s coming clean and ponying up to anything you might be responsible for”. So, could the solution be a sincere apology from Times Of India to Deepika Padukone and the masses whose sentiments were hurt due to inappropriate statement? Probably yes. Just a casual response from Times Of India was probably not the adequate solution to handle the crisis.
Social Media Disaster: Greggs (#FixGreggs)
Greggs is the largest bakery chain with over 1600 outlets in the UK and was caught by a social media storm recently. Briefly speaking, Google image search results started showcasing an unofficial image of Greggs logo which was offensive to both Greggs and its patrons.
The Twitter account of Greggs was soon flooded with a number of messages about the issue. Greggs social media team quickly responded to those tweets and ran a campaign directed at Google with hashtag #FixGreggs.
— Greggs (@GreggstheBakers) August 19, 2014
Google soon yielded to the request of Greggs and its patrons by removing the offensive image from its search results. Look at the tweet below to get an idea as to how you could humanize your brand on social media.
— Google UK (@GoogleUK) August 19, 2014
Owing to this successful campaign of Greggs, there was a lot of positive sentiment associated with the brand in the end. Look at #FixGreggs to discover the positivity in the comments of Twitter users.
So, what exactly did the Greggs social media team do right to get a grip of the situation and turn it in their favour eventually?
Quick Response After The Complete Assessment Of Social Media PR Crisis
Imagine a situation in which you are with some of your critics who stop at nothing to criticize various aspects of your work. How awkward would it be if you responded to them 30 minutes after they were done with criticising? Your 30 minute silence would go against you. Greggs team understood the significance of addressing the issue in timely manner and responded to the comments promptly after assessing the landscape of social media crisis properly. The assessment includes a quick review of how sensitive the overall situation is and if the situation needs to be dealt with humour or sincerity.
Being Human Is Important
Yes, you have a brand image and whatever you write about on social media should reflect your brand values. But, you have to recognise the fact that you are dealing with unpredictable humans on social media platforms. Hence, your brand messages/posts/updates need be blended with human touch. Vouching for a human-like response, Scott Gerber (founder of Young Entrepreneur Council) says “At the end of the day, it’s about being brutally honest and humanizing the brand whenever possible.” This is exactly what Greggs social media team did to tackle the PR disaster. The team responded to tweets of people in the voice of a person as opposed to that of a business, and it was really effective in taking control of the overall situation.
In such type of situation, even if the brand has to resort to humour, self-depreciation and humility to deal with crisis effectively, it should do so without hesitation.
Let The Brand Ambassadors Vouch For You
Alright, you have messed up today. But, you must have done quite a lot of good things in the past on your business accounts because of which so many people chose to be your fans and followers. In case of any PR disaster, you should lean on the group of such brand ambassadors, comprising of social media fans and followers, who could vouch for you and help you recover from the PR crisis quickly.
Even Scott Gerber (founder of Young Entrepreneur Council) opines the aforementioned piece of thought and asserts that “The key to stopping a PR disaster in the social media world is building an incredible brand ambassador network by doing very well for your customers over a long period of time. If something happens, you have a network of people who know that that’s not you.” So, prepare a list of influencers who you could lean on when such crisis breaks out.
To sum it all up, any brand that is faced with such PR crisis should assess the entire situation fast, respond quickly to comments, add human touch to every conversation and let the influencers along with brand ambassadors speak up for the brand. What’s important is the smooth execution of everything that has been mentioned before. Who could execute it all smoothly? It is the people you have hired to manage your social media channels. So, pick up only the competent ones to do social media marketing for your brand.
Facebook..Does it need any introduction in today’s digital era? I guess not. A social networking platform with more than 1.23 billion registered users must be already well-known across the world.
Because of its whopping number of registered users (i.e. almost one fifth of the world population), Facebook has become a social media platform that is central to the marketing strategy of almost every business across the globe.
Unlike traditional means of advertisement such as Television, Radio, Newspaper etc., Facebook has turned out to be a very cost-effective means of reaching target audience. It is a platform using which many businesses and brands have been able to create enormous brand awareness amongst their target audience that, in turn, has resulted in increased market share for such businesses.
While a large number of businesses adore Facebook for great business results, few B2C businesses condemn Facebook for not being able to reap any benefit for them. The question which such few businesses need to consider is if they have made use of available Web Apps on Facebook to add more utility to their Facebook page for their fans. Simply put, businesses or anyone trying to promote ideas, products and services need to customize their Facebook page using Apps to make it more engaging for their fans.
This article would run you though some free Facebook Apps which you can incorporate into your Facebook page to make it more meaningful and interesting for your fans.
Youtube is the most popular video site on the internet. Hence, many entrepreneurs or businesses make use of Youtube to reach out to their target audience to promote their ideas or products or services. Imagine what would happen if your Facebook fans could watch all of your Youtube videos on Facebook itself? Obviously, the multiplying effect would take place. The Facebook fans would engage with your brand more by being able to like, share and comment on your Youtube videos.
Youtube Tab App would let you do exactly the same. Using this app, you can integrate your Youtube page into your Facebook fan page, thereby allowing your Facebook fans to better engage with your brand. After installing this easy-to-use app on your Facebook page, you could customize it to meet the specific needs of your brand.
Used by more than a million users, Static HTML iFrame App provides you with the ability to create customized iFrame tabs on your Facebook page for free. With the help of HTML experts, you can create your unique tab to provide your fans or potential clients a great deal of experience in relation to your brand on Facebook.
This free App lets you create a tab on your Facebook page for a Twitter account (related to your brand). You can choose to show only selected tweets to your Facebook fans by applying hashtag or search term filter. It also gives an opportunity for your Facebook fans to be your followers on Twitter, thereby expanding your reach in the Twitter world.
You can incorporate another free app called Instagram Tab into your Facebook page to display gallery view of your Instagram content. Using this easy-to-use app, you can show either all of the photos using individual username of any Instagram account or selected photos using any specific Hashtag. Like ‘Tweet Feed For Pages’ App, ‘Instagram Tab’ App also gives your fans a chance to be your followers on your brand’s Instagram account.
Are you trying to gain followers on the Pinterest account for your brand? How about introducing your Facebook fans to your pins and pin boards on your brand’s Pinterest account via Facebook itself? Do you reckon it would help? Many businesses say that it would. In fact, most of the businesses have availed themselves of this free App that helped them increase their number of followers on Pinterest and enhance level of engagement with their fans on Facebook simultaneously. Installation of this app is absolutely free and easy.
Denmark was recently promoted as a lucrative destination for higher studies and work by Copenhagen Capacity (a Danish institution that helps companies achieve their re-location or expansion objectives free-of-charge) and Youth Goodwill Ambassador (YGA) Corp through a chain of informational events on 29th and 30th March, 2014 at Chennai.
In order to make the events successful over the weekend (i.e. 29th and 30th March, 2014), CC and YGA needed a digital marketing agency that could help them:
- Craft an effective content strategy that was able to create awareness about Denmark, its high quality education and informational events;
- Create a Facebook community that targeted Indian audience from ICT and life science sectors; and
- Generate a database of prospective students for future engagements.
Digital Escalator International was up for the challenge. Hence, it took the opportunity to help CC and YGA overcome their digital marketing challenges over a period of two months (i.e. 3rd February, 2014 – 3rd April, 2014) in the following manner:
Event poster was created and emailed to 130 participating academic institutions in Tamilnadu to create awareness about the events. Reminder emails were scheduled to be sent 48 hours and 8 hours before the events were due to start with a view to increasing the total number of attendees.
Not only did the emails have information about the scheduled events over the weekend, but the emails also contained some useful links for the students to go through.
Post-event follow-up emails were also sent to the attendees in order to get feedback about their overall experience with a view to improving future events.
Relevant communities were identified on Facebook that could help spread the word about the events. Hence, the administrators of such groups were consulted and requested to spread information related to Danish events among their group members. The administrators of the relevant groups were very supportive and helpful in doing the needful.
Facebook Community Growth and Engagement
When handed over the project, the Facebook page of ‘Study In Denmark –India’ had about 350 fans in total and it was agreed to help CC and YGA grow their fan base of the Facebook page to 5000 fans over a period of 2 months.
Using a series of creative, entertaining and informative posts and regular ad promotions, the total number of Facebook fans for the page was increased to well beyond 5400 over a period of two months.
Creative and beautiful designs were used to put across the idea of ‘Study In Denmark’ to prospective Indian students over a period of two months, and such pieces of content proved to be really effective in drawing attention of the masses.
Facebook Events, Facebook Ads and Eventbrite were used to get the prospective students registered for the events. Of all the registration platforms, Facebook Event (and posts related to events) turned out to be really effective one. Names, Email Ids and Phone Numbers were collected via registration process for future engagement purposes.
Humongous awareness about Denmark, its education and Danish events was created amongst Indian students in Chennai through a series of emails, Facebook posts and ads.
As a result of consistent Facebook posts and ads, 5400+ Facebook fans were generated over a period of two months.
More than 60 queries and 30 queries were received from prospective students via Facebook and email respectively over the two-month period. The students showed their deep interest in pursuing any course or career in Denmark. So much of interest in only one part of India showed to CC and YGA that India could be a potential market for Danish Educational Institutions. Using the right channels and strategy, Danish Universities could certainly increase the number of Indian students in Denmark.
More than 230 interests for the events were registered as a result of using of Facebook Event (posts), Facebook Ads and Eventbrite. Hence, CC and YGA had contact details (Name, Email ID and Phone Number) of fairly good number of prospective students to follow up on.
In the end, the project was a big success for all the parties concerned. What needs to be learnt from this case study is the fact that digital marketing is not an option in this digital era. Rather, it has become necessity for businesses that want to succeed by leaps and bounds in this competitive world.
Total market size of India’s real estate sector was estimated to be $55.6 billion in the year 2010-2011, and the industry is expected to grow to $180 billion by 2020 on account of growing needs for infrastructure from a number of sectors such as tourism, education, healthcare, residential etc.
This prediction about tremendous growth has generated great deal of interest amongst both domestic and international investors lately. As a result of the same, many global investors along with several Private Equity funds have signed up a number of deals with various successful Indian investors and developers for investing their money into India’s real estate sector so as to reap respectable returns in the days to come.
In order to reach out to high net-worth individuals (HNIs) and potential foreign investors, a number of Indian realtors/developers are still resorting to traditional advertising options, such as newspaper ads, television commercials, billboards, radio ads etc. The problem with such traditional advertising options is that these are expensive, and do not count much towards generating revenue. Hence, Indian realtors/developers need an alternative to such traditional means of advertisement to be able to realize their business objectives.
But, the question is what could serve as a decent alternative to costly and non-productive traditional advertisement methods? As we live in a world where everyone is connected through various digital means, digital marketing tools (such as social media marketing, search engine optimization, search engine marketing etc.) could be the solution for Indian realtors/developers to reach and engage with their target audience.
Since foreign investors and HNIs have this tendency of purchasing a number of properties at once or rotating their property-investments frequently, it is very important for realty brands/developers to reach such investors and engage with them from time-to-time so as to reap rewards in the long-run, and social media channels have, indeed, proven to be effective means of doing so.
In spite of being very effective at building engaged community of target audience, social media marketing is not the only option available to realtors/developers/builders in this online arena. Ideally, an integrated digital marketing strategy (comprising of various aforementioned digital marketing tools) is what is needed for real-estate brands to turn their target audience into clients eventually.
Let us look at a short-term project that was undertaken for a real-estate brand lately.
When consulted regarding the project, the real-estate client’s challenges were to:
Reduce bounce rate on its corporate website;
Increase brand awareness via social media platforms; and
Generate database of potential investors for future follow-ups.
The client’s website was completely revamped with a view to giving it aesthetic looks so as to position client’s brand for luxury market segment. While the old website was made using simple HTML and CSS coding, the new one was a CMS-based website with responsive layout.
This meant that the organisation could manage its content in much easier manner than before using CMS (Content Management System), and that the website could be easily navigated across a number of devices because of its responsive theme, thereby allowing the site’s bounce rate to go down.
A comprehensive content strategy was drawn for the organisation with a view to reducing bounce rate and increasing brand awareness. Some of the highlights of 5 month project are as follows:
Every page of the website was re-written with focus on organisation’s values and excellence so that the organisation could be projected as a reputed brand to the potential real-estate buyers/investors.
Blog was created to showcase content in relation to latest industry news, ongoing projects, joint ventures, special achievements and awards in order to engage with target group and position the brand as a leader in the real-estate sector.
Landing Pages Created For Data Collection
Landing pages with sign-up forms were created for various property schemes, allowing interested buyers/investors to register and download beautifully designed e-brochures for more information. This helped generate database of prospects for the real-estate client to follow-up on later.
After engaging pieces of content were created, those were shared via platforms such as Facebook and LinkedIn. Sharing of meaningful and relevant content via company’s page and relevant groups helped extend reach of the organisation to the potential investors/buyers that, in turn, resulted in great deal of brand awareness and creation of engaged communities on both Facebook and LinkedIn.
The landing pages for various ongoing projects were also promoted via digital ads (Facebook Ad and Google AdWords) to add on to the number of registrations of prospective buyers/investors.
Bounce rate of the website was reduced from over 70% to about 45%, meaning more and more visitors were engaging with the content available on the site now.
Facebook community with over 20,000 fans was built for the client over a period of 5 months, thereby spreading awareness about the brand in the market.
More than 2000 sign-up forms were filled out by prospective buyers/investors.
Hence, if you are from real-estate sector and wish your brand to be considered for business by prospective investors, you should resort to a well-devised digital marketing plan instead of sticking to old advertising methods that are losing their significance in this digital era by and by.