Charting the future of public relations
Anti-social media: Your fans are not the enemy
Paul Holmes
Holmes Report
CEO

Anti-social media: Your fans are not the enemy

Paul Holmes

Social media provide customers with an ideal opportunity to glimpse the true character of the companies behind the products they buy, use and love. If the company is open, authentic, attentive and generous, this can be a great relationship builder. Of course, if the company is none of those things, it won’t take consumers long to figure it out. Maybe companies are in general much nicer than many ordinary people had imagined, or maybe it’s a tribute to public relations, marketing and digital professionals throughout the corporate world, but many companies have found success using social media as a way to engage with their customers. But they have—which is why it’s still news when a company acts like a total dick. Which brings us to Ferrero, which has decided to kill the best public relations campaign its Nutella brand has going for it by demanding that Sara Rosso—perhaps the brand’s most vocal advocate in the social media realm—“cease-and-desist” from rallying fans to celebrate “World Nutella Day,” an unofficial holiday she created five years ago. Rosso’s “World Nutella Day” Facebook page has 40,000 fans and includes a ton of fun Nutella content. And it brings us to Nintendo, which has decided that if its biggest fans post video content of themselves playing any of its games to YouTube—as many do—it deserves a slice of any ad revenue that results. It’s not entirely clear what motivates this kind of action. I’d like to think that it’s just the result of overzealous copyright attorneys—though if it is, sending out this kind of notice without consulting the public relations department ought to be classified as malpractice. Perhaps in Nintendo’s case, the company feels it needs the incremental revenue. Or perhaps Nutella felt it could manage the annual celebration of its brand better than an individual. But companies that continue to treat their customers—indeed, their biggest fans—as if they were an irritation are their own worst enemies.
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