2014 has been a phenomenal year in terms of social media evolution in the country. On the one hand, most Indian brands experimented with newer ways of consumer engagement, while on the other, when things went wrong, they did not fire the social media intern. Instead, they tried to own up or cover up the misdoing, whatever they deemed fit for the brand, in innovative ways.
Yet the human psyche to avoid apology and walk away after shoving wrongdoings under the carpet is still persistent. We saw many a social media blunder in the previous years and mostly from the big names in the industry, but the manner of tackling them is the same this year too. Or maybe not.
Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong and social media isn’t spared from Murphy’s law either. Here, we look at the big stories of 2014, where Indian brands (all consumer facing ones) tackled a social media disaster in their own innovative ways:
1. The Zomato Tech Capital ‘Alleged Racist’ hiring strategy
Restaurant review site Zomato had launched a hiring campaign called ‘Tech Capital’ this May, wherein it was hoping to hire engineers, designers and product managers to work in Delhi. The campaign set on a mission to make Delhi as the tech capital of India, something Bangalore is already known to be.
The campaign copy included a cheeky infographic and several reasons as to why Delhi wins over Bangalore; each of the reasons took a jibe at Bangalore traffic, curfews, lack of cuisine, etc. Understandably, Bangaloreans were the most offended and created a series of spoof campaigns mocking Zomato’s Tech Capital, and threatening to uninstall the mobile app. Zomato called off the campaign two days later and also issued an apology.
2. Domino’s India vs. Udit Sathaye & Indian media
One August day, Udit Sathaye, a Pune youth was chilling out at a cafe with his friends when he saw what happened at the Domino’s Pizza outlet next to them. One of the pizza delivery boys loaded black garbage bags onto the same box in which he would normally carry the pizzas for delivery. Udit clicked a picture and tweeted to Domino’s, which then promised to take appropriate action.
The subsequent steps taken to manage the pizza brand’s online reputation wasn’t upto the mark. Domino’s asked him to delete the tweet, after mainstream media had picked up the news, and did not include an apology with its official corrective action statement. Read complete story on why Domino’s India needs lessons on ORM.
3. Amul vs. Neha Tomar ORM disaster
This October, Neha Tomar, from the capital city of Delhi took to Facebook when she found out that the Amul Gold milk she had purchased wasn’t suitable for consumption. Her Facebook post that had pictures of the spoilt milk got nearly 70K shares and nearly 10K likes.
Amul India responded to her also through a Facebook post for which it won many accolades. It said she had used ‘expired’ milk and also that she had malafide intentions for the brand and misused her office to publicise the story. Neha is a Senior Legal Officer at Public Health Foundation of India.
Meanwhile, as the perplexity of the case grew, Amul was found to be guilty of having doctored Neha’s screenshots to match with its explanation story. While Amul’s Facebook page does not display any user posts now, there hasn’t been any clarity on the brand’s part. Neha has answered all the allegations in a guest post to LI.
4. BO capsule Twitter contest awards a toy phone
This October, Box Office Capsule, an online publication that focuses on Bollywood and the box office hosted a Twitter contest with iPhone5 as the grand prize. Things went smoothly up until the winner was announced. One of the contest players discovered that the winner was actually employed at a company that created the app for BO Capsule. When she pointed this out, the brand reasoned it had every right to select the winner.
Following a Twitter outrage, BO Capsule finally chose to announce an alternate winner and promised to award a smartphone. But, the winner received a toy phone instead!
Following more outrage and this story at LI, the winner finally received a brand new smartphone.
5. NDTV Goodtimes SM blooper cover up
This August, the person handling the NDTV Goodtimes social media accounts posted that he/she is pissed off with this office as it sucks. The post was synched with the television channel’s Facebook and Twitter pages, thereby generating massive social mocking for the brand. The brand chose to delete the erroneous post without issuing an apology, but gave an explanation that its account was hacked. It also shared a funny meme article on how to make office fun.
However, this excuse didn’t go down well with fans, causing some outrage. Good sense prevailed and NDTV Goodtimes chose to remain the ‘king of good times’ by rephrasing the post and taking away the standard ‘account hacked’ reason. A few fans remained unconvinced though with this cover up.
6. When IBN Live tweeted a ‘WOW’!
This March, IBN Live, one of India’s sources for breaking news updates, and also an active media brand on social media tweeted a “wow” at midnight. But it did not blame the intern. The “wow” was part of a scheduled tweet for a news headline about a base jump from the top of Freedom Tower, but a funny technical glitch ensured only ‘Wow’ got tweeted.
IBN Live wrote a funny post about the same, while it accepted and explained its mistake, and ensured that “no intern was harmed in the aftermath of ‘Wow’”. While it may not qualify as a grave social media blunder, the brand did leverage the opportunity to engage its readers.
7. HUL’s winning deal from Snapdeal’s soapdeal
Availing one of the tempting deals on the Diwali bumper sale by etailer Snapdeal, Laxminarayan Krishnamurthy, a Mumbai resident had ordered the Samsung smartphone for his wife. But what he received instead was a bar of Vim soap, the iconic Indian dishwashing soap bar by Hindustan Unilever.
He shared a picture of the Vim bar on his Facebook page, after receiving no response from Snapdeal. After nearly 20K shares and mainstream media picking it up, Snapdeal refunded his amount.
But then HUL came into the picture as pictures of the Vim bar in a Samsung carton had become the talking point on social media. HUL cracked a winning social media deal by gifting him the Samsung smartphone for his wife, along with a few bottles of Vim liquid soap!
Feature image courtesy: Shutterstock