Hasan Syed was fed up with the way British Airways handled the problem of his father’s lost luggage. He didn’t want to create a song out of it. Instead, he discovered a new way of using social media to embarrass giant corporations: pay for a “promoted” tweet to complain about poor service.
Needless to say, we are going to see more of these techniques from certain user groups to make their voice heard. Not always however, is the customer always right. With social channels working out as a virtual megaphone to voice their dis-satisfaction against brands, there are times when the medium may be thoroughly abused to arm-twist companies with threats of reputation damage. This is, however, not to say that brands are always innocent too.
We don’t yet fully know what exactly happened at Lemp. Interestingly, there was a claim by the brewery that the disgruntled customers in this case had deployed digital agency marketers to carry out a campaign against Lemp. Lemp also hired a social media agency of its own to contain the situation, and they came out with a “People for Lemp” blog to rally Lemp’s loyal customers/supporters (if they had any) and a series of CCTV footage videos. What really happened at Lemp remains unknown, and no, people for Lemp doesn’t help either. All I gathered from this tussle is that it’s one group screaming out “I am one-up” against the other, and none of them were compelling enough.
Got to give this one that Lalit Modi did make a smart use of twitter hashtag #comecleansrini to turn this into a campaign – or call it “Agenda Marketing”. Would we also see another hashtag get curated simultaneously? Would that be #ModiForIPL or would that rather be #ModiForBCCI?
What does reputation and crisis mean in the age of “Agenda Marketing”? Can consumers with agenda vilify a brand? People who have managed community pages for brands have been noticing this for quite sometime, but these incidents like Hasan Syed’s British Airways agenda campaign and Lalit Modi’s IPL agenda campaign take it to a different scale altogether.
We will continue to see more of these agenda campaigns – by consumers against brands, people against people and parties.
Some of them may even be change-drivers. It depends on the differentiation between an “agenda” and a “cause”. Anybody who has the smarts on the Indian election campaign to oust the corrupt leaders? Anyone???
But for brands, there lies a huge imperative to understand and re-define issues management or crisis management in the context of “Agenda marketing”. And just for the record: Over-reacting or snooping equally low to commit your own follies does not help anyone.