Brands: You can’t hide from the truth

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Post Summary: The Internet has not only empowered consumersconsumers, it has made them more informed about current issues with brands and products. Brands that hide from the truth or ignore social media buzz are going to pay a huge price as consumers drop them like a bad habit. UPS might learn this the hard way as they “failed to anticipate the demand” for Christmas delivery leaving a lot of people without Christmas presents. Social media is abuzz about the data breach at Target that caused millions of consumers to potentially have their credit card accounts hacked. Even though Target has promised to “make it right” a lot of Target shoppers are saying that have had enough and are going never to shop at the retailer again.

Remember that consumers are angry and what we consider a minor inconvenience could become a full blown PR nightmare.

Here are some guidelines for acknowledging and joining in the conversation around your product rather than just ignoring them with sales messages:

1ne: All brands, and marketers should have a process set up so that they can listen to both the media and social media when it comes to discussion centered around their products or reputation. However, more than just listening brands need to respond quickly to possible threats and respond by “keeping it real”.

2wo: The process should not only list possible threats to your brand/product, but but should also quantify them by quantitative measurements like buzz mentions on social media, BLOG posts or comments on news sites. You don’t need to respond to every threat but you should respond to ones with high buzz.

3hree: Speed is essential to respond to media reports around your product(s). The buzz only lasts a short time and if you wait too long you will miss a critical opportunity to respond to challenges/issues.

4our: You need to respond like a consumer, addressing consumer concerns not a salesman trying to sell you a used car. Be honest and impartial and realize that if you say nothing it could lead to loss of market share.

5ive: Don’t try and get into one on one conversations around negative media stories. Respond to concerns but don’t let the response seem like “see I told you so…”

6ix: Ensure that your response is integrated in all your digital media. This means not only responding on your facebook page it means responding on your brand website as well. If a news story comes out saying that fish oil, for example, does not provide health benefits you need to define your stance and without trying to “trash” the report or study. (A recent New England Journal of medicine study said Fish Oil did not provide benefits for certain people).

7even: Remind your legal people that speed is essential when a news story breaks that is critical of your product. The longer you wait the more it seems like you are avoiding the issue.

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Consumers are better informed than marketers and don’t live in offices and focus groups. Marketers have to realize that they cannot afford to live so much in the brand that they ignore the marketing environment.

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Originally published at www.newmediaandmarketing.com on December 26, 2013.

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