By Nick Johnson - February 6th, 2013

This week, we look at Applebee's 'social media nightmare', evaluate social media's impact on the Super Bowl and what it means for brands, and take a look at two new startups with an impact on your job

Applebee's and another example of social media crisis response going wrong

The headlines can be pretty brutal. "US restaurant Applebee's commits 'social media suicide'", "Applebees Overnight Social Media Meltdown", and "Applebee's: If you're in a social media hole, put down your shovel". 

What are they talking about? Well, to cut a long story short, Applebee's fired a waitress for posting a snarky note on a receipt from a customer.. They got a lot of heat over social media, and people pointed out that the rules Applebee's used to explain the firing had been somewhat unevenly applied. Indeed, Applebee's themselves had posted notes from customers on their own homepage. 

The Applebee's homepage featured a direct feed of social media comment about their brand - an otherwise admirable stance, but something that ratcheted up the pressure on the company - it soon filled with criticism, and examples of Applebee's posting images themselves.

Up until here, this isn't really a social media story. It's a story about the uneven application of corporate rules. But social media amplified things, and started to take a bigger and bigger role in the company's woes.

Applebee's tried to cover their tracks, and tried to pull the wool over their customers' eyes. This doesn't work. They made the same mistake again, and started deleting negative comments. This doesn't work. It's an outdated strategy based on an environment where the company has control over the message about their brand.

The trouble is, once you rile people, they see everything you do through the lens of your negative publicity. So when a member of staff started to let their emotions get the better of them, commenting "No one's asking me to comment at 5am. I am because I care, we care. I totally understand why you're upset and hate that I can't fix it." Read that symathetically, and it's a very human, approachable and committed response to a problem. But through the lens of "Applebee's are horrible", it's seen as 'picking a fight'.

The best article on this is here, if you want to read more.

Evidently, there is more work to do around social media crisis response. If it's something you care about, then it might be worth checking out the sessions on the topic at our flagship conference, where JetBlue, P&G and Sprinklr will be sharing insight.

Social media activity 3 x higher than last year at Super Bowl XLVII

There's still controversy and debate about the non-call at fourth and goal, but one unarguable fact about this year's Super Bowl was the growth in social media activity around the event. According to Mashable, there was 3 x more than last year. They share a great infographic, and highlight a few other stats. Like the fact that 88% of the social conversation took place on a mobile device. For brands, it shows the 'second screen' is a channel you've got to get involved with.

Advertisers at the Super Bowl had already noticed - and the advert breaks were notable for the frequency of drives towards social sites. More than this, some very smart brands jumped on the power outage discussion and used it to raise their profile and engagement

There's a great discussion/interview between Hayden Shaughnessy and Robin Carey on this over at Forbes. The key points?

  1. Real time response to advertising is happening right now, and is a huge opportunity
  2. This has got to be part of a continuing relationship - huge ad spend for a 30 second spot, with no follow up leads to far worse ROI that sustained relationship building - and social media is the best way to do this
  3. Authenticity is key - bringing social media engagement in-house is becoming increasingly important#

Two new startups that you should know about

A couple of new companies have got the headlines over the last week or so, and both represent an opportunity to the savvy marketer.

The first is Vine, Twitter's new video app, which allows users to post 6-second, looping videos. The BBC highlight that "ads work at 6 second length" and highlight General Electric and Gap's initial forays into this space.

Over at MarketingProfs, Ann Hadley highlights some other brands using the service - the video being my particular favourite in showing the potential this offers brands for deeper engagement.

The second new launch is Ribbon, which was profiled over at Mashable. The start-up aims to help companies sell physical and digital products over Facebook and Twitter. Personalised user experience is a big trend in 2013, and Ribbon helps. Companies can share the same link to a payment site via different social profiles, and Ribbon will automatically customise said payment site to relate to the provenance of the visitor. The plan is to roll out to Pinterest, and YouTube shortly. It's worth a look.

Next Reads

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