“What’s up everyone. Finally decided to try out Twitter!” Tiger Woods tweeted the world yesterday. After a long social media silence — just three tweets in the last year — he was met with quite the welcome. Woods gained 10,000 new followers in one hour.
Even though Brett Farve and Tony Parker are the new sex scandals of sports, Woods could still use some redeeming.
So Tiger, here are 10 PR wins from brands that fought problems and scandals on Twitter. Take note!
What happened: That whole big oil spill last summer. To make matters worse, someone created a fake BP PR account and started tweeting from it.
The solution: Unfortunately, BP didn't have a good plan of attack. They waited until the crisis spread all over social media before taking action. According to PRSA.org, 'BP contacted Twitter to make @BPGlobalPR clearly label itself as a parody...For the most part, BP officials have ignored @BPGlobalPR, which might be all they can do. However, rather than be at odds with social media, BP would have been better off crowdsourcing ideas to generate potential solutions to the disaster.'
The lesson: Don't wait for a crisis to strike -- get your account authorised by Twitter before an impostor taints your brand.
What happened: Who has thought about, much less CARED about, a Ken barbie doll since they were five? But Mattel wanted to be a part of NYC's fashion night out anyway.
The solution: Sixteen days before Fashion Night Out, Mattel PR began tweeting from a new Ken doll account. Using Twitter to tweet everything from, 'Barbie told me I should check out Twitter,' to 'Meet me at this event,' Mattel earned thousands of loyal followers who followed Ken's every move, both online and off.
The lesson: Just because there isn't any recent news about you doesn't mean you can't make people start caring. Sometimes, going AWOL can work to your advantage, leading to a big comeback when you finally do make an appearance.
What happened: Last month, CNN wrote an article, 'Microsoft's Consumer Brand is Dying.' Microsoft is desperately trying to prove them wrong and is using Twitter as an outlet.
The solution: Microsoft PR head Frank Shaw blasted a dozen+ tweets pointing out company facts that paint a rosier picture. Business Insider reported, 'Shaw has rightly pointed out that a lot of the 240 million Windows 7 licenses sold in the last year went to consumers, points out that Bing is innovating and gaining market share, and notes that Halo Reach (which broke all-time one-day sales records last month) and the Kinect motion-controlled accessory for Xbox 360 sure feel like consumer products.' Conveniently, Microsoft did this all right before they announced company earnings.
The lesson: No one can argue facts, so put some genuine, good-old truth in your tweets.
What happened: Toyota had two massive recalls that freaked out customers, one in late 2009 and the other in early 2010, after there were safety issues with their cars. Millions of vehicles were recalled, resulting in negative public opinion and decreased sales.
The solution: According to TechCrunch, 'The Japanese auto giant has launched a branded channel on TweetMeme, in partnership with Federated Media, which aggregates and organise Twitter conversations regarding Toyota.
'Called Toyota Conversations, the site brings together the top stories being Tweeted about Toyota, from news articles to press releases. The site also shows visitors the most popular videos and images being shared about Toyota on Twitter. And the channel includes a Featured Tweets from Toyota's Twitter account and press room as well as AdTweets, which are Tweetmeme's retweetable ads for Toyota.'
The lesson: Don't be afraid to start the conversation and let people vent. When you start the conversation, you get to be the moderator and can control some of information being discussed.
What happened: Southwest Airlines asked an overweight passenger to leave the plane. The passenger happened to be a famous movie director, Kevin Smith, who tweeted dozens of times about the incident ('Dear Southwest Airlines, I know I'm fat'). His story was picked up by TMZ.
The solution: Southwest Airlines used Twitter to reach out to people following the news story. According to CNET: 'Southwest, which also has more than a million Twitter followers and uses the service for customer relations, posted a blog entry apologizing to Smith and admitting that the situation was poorly handled.'
The lesson: Admit when you're wrong, and apologise when necessary. People also will usually respect hearing your side of a story, even if they don't agree with it.
What happened: Blogger Jeff Jarvis slammed Dell for his bad user experience with them a few years ago. He posted a series of rants titled 'Dell Hell' on TheBuzzMachine. Soon, 'Dell Hell' became the most googled search term for the company; the negative posts served as an outlet for consumer rage against Dell.
The solution: Dell turned to social media, using blogs and Twitter as a direct line to frustrated consumers. They opened up the conversation, and created Direct2Dell. The results:
- At start of program, 49% of blog posts were negative. Today, overall tonality is 22% negative.
- Within two years, Direct2Dell was ranked 700 on Technorati, among the highest corporate blogs, receiving more than 5 million unique views per month.
The lesson: Don't shy away from criticism. Give yourself a voice and a way for your followers to get in direct contact when they're disgruntled.
What happened: A well-known podcaster, CC Chapman, found he was unable to watch the 17th championship game in Celtic history. He Twitter blasted a complaint about Comcast.
The solution: Comcast responded immediately via Twitter. They sent a cable man to Chapman's house and repaired the signal before tip off of the next game.
The lesson: Set up digital alerts so that when a fan or customer needs something, you can be there to assist them. It sure made a great story when The Globe wrote about Comcast's excellent Twitter customer-service.
What happened: A Shaquille O'Neal impersonator was tweeting under the celebrity's name before Twitter had celebrity verification in place. Shaq found he couldn't properly disprove the impersonator.
The solution: Shaq created a Twitter account, @The_Real_Shaq, and tweeted things that were authentic. Shaq and his PR team also created 'Random Acts of Shaqness,' rewarding fans and followers for how closely they followed the real Shaq's tweets.
The lesson: If you're a big name, make sure to have your celebrity Twitter account verified. Being authentic will show fans that you're the real figure they should be following.
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