Archive for March, 2011

The World’s Strongest Boilermaker

This week, I met up with senior Justin Deblauw, an intern at the Co-Rec, to learn more about the upcoming World’s Strongest Boilermaker competition. It will be held Saturday, April 9 and Sunday, April 10 at noon at the Co-Rec facilities. Come join me and watch these athletes toss kegs, carry giant Atlas stones and push the Extra Boilermaker Special!

Two Thumbs Up for Chrysler

After the initial response from Chrysler, Twitter users questioned the appropriateness of the company’s “stiff, corporate” tone and actions regarding the accidental F-bomb tweet.

Chrysler posted a subsequent blog yesterday providing more insight into the situation and why the company reacted the way it did. In a nutshell, Chrysler expresses its dedication and support of Detroit and working to rebuild the industry and economy. Also, Chrysler was not responsible for firing the employee. Social Media Today applauds the company on its proper and effective use of a corporate blog – clearing up details and offering information that would otherwise not be available.

New Technologies, New Controversies

As Twitter continues to evolve as a means of personal and professional communication, tweeters are struggling to find a balance between these two worlds. Many public relations professionals, and even job-seeking students, have created two accounts – one public and one private. Although this distinction is meant to avoid crisis and controversy, recent examples have demonstrated that this is easier said than done.

In February, the Red Cross made headlines when a personal tweet about #gettngslizzerd was accidentally posted on the company’s account and was instantly available to over 250,000 followers worldwide.  The company responded with: “We’ve deleted the rogue tweet but rest assured the Red Cross is sober and we’ve confiscated the keys.”

With acknowledgement and a sense of humor, the incident resulted in increased interest and donations, according to the organization. Dogfish Head, the company mentioned in the tweet, even benefitted from the fortuitous publicity. Although the employee and the Red Cross emerged favorably from the mishap, others are not so lucky.

Earlier today, this tweet appeared on Chrysler’s account: “I find it ironic that Detroit is known as the #motorcity and yet no one here knows how to f***ing drive.” The company apologized for the PR blunder, which was apparently tweeted by an employee of its social media agency. Said employee has already been fired. I’m interested to see the public’s perception of Chrysler’s response, as it is a sharp contrast to the Red Cross.

My advice: don’t post negative or controversial tweets in the first place, especially if it relates to your employer or client. Even if these posts only appear on your personal account, they are still tied to your name and in turn, tied to your employer, clients and associations. Once it’s out there, you can’t take it back.

To “Like” Taco Bell or Not to “Like”

This week I followed Taco Bell’s Facebook page. The company’s site has 5,819,690 fans and includes extra pages, such as news, photos, careers and more. The most obvious plus of Taco Bell’s site is that they allow fans to write on their wall. Several companies that I debated following before choosing Taco Bell did not allow this (i.e. Papa John’s, Domino’s, Pizza Hut).

On average, the company posted once or twice per day. They use these posts to engage followers, get feedback, advertise promotions or deals, and post information about the company that will make them look good (public relations type posts). Some posts they use to engage followers include:

  • What’s your favorite Taco Bell burrito?
  • Are you staying in tonight or out and about? Who’s making a Bell run tonight?
  • Who “Likes” late night Bell runs?

Some ways the company asked for feedback are:

  • Who’s tried the Quad Steak Burrito with 4X the thick and juicy marinated steak? Thumbs up or down?

Concerning the advertising and PR posts, Taco Bell used Facebook to share information about events they sponsored (i.e. a basketball contest), share the latest specials offered at Taco Bell (i.e. 88 cent Crunch Wrap Supreme), and to offer special coupons and deals to their fans. Most of the promotional posts are accompanied by links to places on Taco Bells website where fans can go for more information. One of the most interesting ways the company utilized its Facebook page was to deal with the recent crisis due to the law suit claiming Taco Bell’s seasoned ground beef is only 35 percent certified meat. Taco Bell responded to this law suit and ushered people and fans to the Facebook page. Coupons for a free crunchy taco were available to all those who “Like”ed the page.

One major downside of Taco Bell’s Facebook site is the way they respond (or don’t respond) to posts. For example, I stated that the company posted a lot of questions asking for feedback or for comments from fans. However, once the comment was posted, the company never commented on or responded to any of the fan posts. These posts to engage the audience usually received 2,000 to 4,000 comments, but Taco Bell never adds input, comments on posts or thanks fans for their input.

Also, as noted earlier, Taco Bell does allow fans to post on the site. However, maybe the company should rethink this. The company does not answer questions or thank fans a majority of the time. When customers complain and the company does choose to respond, they are offered this standard, yet “personalized” message:

  • ·@Megan – Sorry about that L Please call 1-800-TACO-BELL or fill out the form at: http://www.tacobell.com/legal/feedback.
    It helps to provide the store number and any additional details. This will be sent to the store so that they can improve in the future.
    Thanks!
    Taco Bell

Although I give the company props for attempting to respond, this type of answer is not ideal. It is not personalized and offers no additional help in the complaint process. I think it would be more beneficial if they were to say something like, “I’ll make sure I take care of this,” or “I’ll make sure your complaint gets into the right hands.” People don’t want to fill out forms or call automated messages, that’s why they complain on Facebook.

I also noticed the company deleted some of the complaint comments. For instance one woman posted: “I tried to complain about how little meat was in my Crunch Wrap Supreme and you deleted it and didn’t even respond! Thanks a lot!” After this second complaint, the fan received the typical: “That’s no good L Call us at…” response.

Finally, although Taco Bell tried to utilize Facebook to respond to the ‘meat crisis,’ the company did a poor job of actually addressing the issue on Facebook. When followers commented on the situation or asked about the law suit or meat recipe, Taco Bell solicited the same response every time:

Except the coupons and interaction between fans, I don’t see a whole lot of value in Taco Bell’s Facebook site. In other words, I don’t think the company is adding any real information or service that isn’t available elsewhere. I know it’s difficult to respond when fans post at least every 10 minutes, but the vague and unhelpful responses are not ideal.


Twitter Updates

March 2011
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