When running a community on Facebook, there’s a great reason to be careful while posting updates. We all know that conversations on social media can be seen and read anywhere, which leaves a lot of room for interpretations. Therefore, a single wall post (comments, pictures, updates) can be understood in many ways and can have some serious consequences for your brand.
For Nikon, a well-meaning Facebook update was greatly misunderstood by a large number of fans. Having heard about several brand crises, which involved product issues (such as Greenpeace versus Nestlé case), service flaws, employee behavior, I felt that the crisis faced by Nikon makes brands even more vulnerable in the social media paradigm. With the camera manufacturer Nikon, we saw that word actually travels fast in social media and can provoke both positive and negative sentiments even for well-known brands with great products.
1 update – 3,000 comments
On September 28th, Nikon posted the following update on their Facebook page which at the moment has 846,879 fans: “A photographer is only as good as the equipment he uses, and a good lens is essential to taking good pictures! Do any of our facebook fans use any of the NIKKOR lenses? Which is your favorite and what types of situations do you use it for?”
18 hours after the post was published, a bit more than 3,000 comments were made. Most of the comments from the fans expressed negative feelings towards Nikon, since they felt the brand was implying that a photographer is only as good as his equipment. A few comments defended Nikon, though, and some might say that the offended users were overreacting.
What did it mean for Nikon?
Personally, I feel that the angry Nikon fans might be taken the update too literally, but on the other hand it’s definitely an unfortunate post by the company. I’m sure that Nikon was very surprised by how fast one update can turn into a crisis, and in such a situation it’s crucial for a brand to know what to do.
How the crisis was averted
Nikon’s way of trying to solve the situation was by making a new update on their page. Nikon wrote as follows:
Think twice before posting
As mentioned, this kind of example is a good case when illustrating how fast things can fall apart. One wrong comment and your fan base might turn their back on you. This is something that definitely shows the power of social media! However, even though social media makes brands far more vulnerable, it’s not something that should hold these back from opening up towards customers. Rather, it’s a matter of having a strategy and thinking twice before posting.
Having a social strategy and developing a plan for all social media activities is of vital importance. Spending time on formulating updates for the Facebook page and having an entire social media team approve these, is something that can help you avoid posting updates that can be misunderstood within your community. Naturally, this takes time, but having several employees go through the update and making sure that everything is correct helps omit any mistakes.
Dealing with a crisis
In relation to dealing with the offended fans, Nikon’s solution of writing an honest apology in a new status update was good and simple. It took some time for the brand to act, but they did. They apologized to their ‘friends’ and it seemed sincere. Most comments to this update included acceptance from the fans, and it therefore prevented the situation from turning into some serious consequences for the brand. However, that could most likely have been the case, and this only emphasizes how important it is for brands to have a strategy with includes thoughts on crisis management.
Therefore, from this case of Nikon, there are some important elements to remember, if having to deal with either a small or greater crisis in social media:
- Be serious and take action: Since updates spread fast from one platform to another, it’s important to take the impact of social media seriously. Take action right away and deal with the situation fast in order to avoid it from getting out of control.
- Be human and honest: Having made a mistake, it’s crucial to admit it. We all make mistakes, so being human and honest about it as in the case of Nikon will get you far. Take on the responsibility and engage in dialogue about the situation rather than being in denial.
- Have a plan: In social media, it’s important to think ahead. Have a plan that defines your social media presence, and assign the task of crisis management to a specific individual or team, so that you’re prepared.
- Define your work process: Running a community, it’s important for the employees involved to know what tasks are assigned to each person. In order to avoid any mistakes and unclear updates you should have several people approve your content. And always think twice before you post!
What do you think about this case of Nikon? Were the users overreacting, and how would you deal with the situation?