Saturday, 10 March 2012

The impact of social media on brand PR

An interesting blog post from leading social media influencer Brian Solis summarises what effect social media can have on the general PR position of a brand, and contrasts how the mocking of BP on Twitter after the 2010 incident in the Gulf of Mexico with how Virgin Media have used it cleverly to serve customers in a human and personable way:
The creation of malicious fake Twitter accounts can be equally detrimental to companies and organizations. There have been many examples of Twitter accounts being hijacked in protest to a company's unpopular policy or handling of an event. Oil companies Exxon Mobil and BP have both been victims of Twitter impersonation, and following BP's handling of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster, the satirical @BPGlobalPR has attracted over 160,000 followers.

While this can be seen as a brand disaster, a company wishing to engage in some positive PR could use the feedback such channels offer to gauge the public's perception and respond accordingly. Contrast the endless examples of companies who delete negative blog and Facebook posts with the policy of the @virginmedia team. The company makes a point of responding to every customer online mention whether it is positive or not. In one case, a woman tweeted that her Virgin Media connection wasn't working and her two year-old daughter was upset at having to miss her favorite TV show, Peppa Pig. Not only did Virgin send an engineer immediately, he was carrying a Peppa Pig toy for the little girl. Think what this type of response can do for your brand perception, loyalty and preference!
Virgin of course aren't the only company to add the human touch like this, but it is a particularly good example of how the perception of a brand can be turned around if a problem is fixed (which is the basic hygiene factor that must happen in the case of social media customer service) with added extras on top.