Across the world’s business community there have been a number of marketing mistakes that can all lead back to one word; “Transparency”. Social Media Transparency is a vital skill for business owners to acquire and understand. With the internet’s viral ability to share good and bad information at high speed, customers have become more demanding of accountable management. Some businesses have used this hunger to their advantage by taking customers behind the scenes of their business while others have tried the old “neither confirm nor deny” approach only to be shafted as the truth eventually comes into the light.
One of the worst examples that later turned around was when Dominos in the US tried to deal with an incident involving staff who put cheese up their nose before putting it on the pizza base for cooking. This was one of a number of disturbing antics. The power of social media used the employee’s self-made YouTube videos to badly bring down the brand’s name. Later management used the same YouTube service to issue unreserved apologies that helped to right the tilting ship. This retrospective form of risk management didn’t need to happen but it came about because of a corporate culture struggling to embrace new communications channels happening around the business.
The way in which senior Dominos staff took responsibility actually gained more kudos than if they had pointed the finger at the staff involved. When BP faced a disaster of national proportions back in 2010 it struggled to embrace the social media that could have helped them. Their deep-sea drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico was pumping out millions of gallons of crude oil and became an environmental disaster. It was the shut-up rather than put-up approach of their media management and leadership that became their downfall. Later, social media was used by members of the public, including a BP parody account, to bring pressure to bear as key information became public knowledge. BP did some catch-up by trying to get into Facebook, Twitter and Flickr to present good news stories in the light of the clean-up but they were always on the back foot when it comes to Social Media transparency.
The lesson that can be learned from past experience is to be front of the line with a clear informed answer to any faux pas or customer challenge. Respect is built through transparency and a cover-up will lose plenty of goodwill credits with your customers when it finally comes out.