Friday, 17 April 2009

Dominos feels the force of the social web

In case you have not read about this already (if you are on Twitter it is almost impossible not to have stumbled across the story), Dominos US President Patrick Doyle has taken the unprecedented step of releasing a YouTube video to tackle the growing malaise caused by Dominos employees filming themselves doing unspeakable things to food and then (allegedly) serving it to customers.

The employees in question released a video on YouTube of them, amongst other things, putting cheese up their nose and then putting it in sandwiches. Now that is not the smartest move; every naughty schoolboy knows that if you are going to misbehave, you don’t advertise it globally! Unsurprisingly various consumer groups and outraged online viewers escalated this issue until Dominos had no choice but to respond. Unfortunately the original video can't be accessed as the employees in question have had it suspended due to forthcoming legal action being taken against them by Dominos. Oh dear, bet they never though that would happen!

You can find the video response from Patrick Doyle

Now there is an explosion of commentary, debate and abuse floating around the web. Bloggers have gone crazy (yep I'm firmly on the bandwagon!) and there are comments galore. There are even discussion threads where people are laying in to each other over their responses to the incident. Crazy people out there. For an example of a blog on this subject check out New York News.

If you want further evidence of how much content this is spawning and how excited the online world has become so quickly, got to Twitterfall and type in "Dominos" as a custom search - watch the tweets rise & rise!

This is a great example of the power of the social web - once something becomes public domain, you have no control over what happens to it. The community decides whether they want to share, embrace, condone or vilify. It has a direct impact on brand reputation, so every contact with social networks must be well thought through, well intentioned and effectively monitored.

So what do you think? Was the response the right decision, was it too big brother? Did Dominos have any other choice given the potential brand damage of sitting on the fence? Do you think Dominos has come out of this with positive PR?

Please let me know your comments.

Thursday, 9 April 2009

Sitting in the corner all alone

Why do some companies miss a trick? Why do marketers spend a lot of time and effort coming up with clever campaign concepts only to fail in the delivery? On the social web there is a huge opportunity to encourage people to share your ideas across their networks, provided you give them good reason to. Encouraging people to talk for you doesn't always require a financial incentive, though that is indeed the usual fare. However a quid pro quo is desireable - you scratch my back etc.

My irritation comes this week from what I think was a great piece of marketing poorly executed. The brand is Brora, the concept an Easter Egg Hunt launched via email. The email invited me to their website to hunt for easter eggs hidden on pages; there are 15 in total to collect awarding a maximum discount of 15% off your order.

On closer inspection, there was no obvious route to finding the eggs and no hints/tips to channel people to find the mother load. The landing page explaining the hunt was bland and unengaging. The eggs, when found, were easy to see and there was a nicely delivered splash page showing your new egg being added to the basket and the total eggs collected. 

However, there are 15 eggs to collect to get the full 15% discount. Firstly, 15 eggs is a lot to collect when you are not giving people any clues how to find them and they all exist on separate pages. Secondly, 15% is not a great offer anymore - anything less than 20% seems an offense! So, in my opinion  this is a really cute piece of marketing that has failed to ask the killer question - will my customers find it easy to use and will they be excited? Of course, that is my take, hopefully for Brora it will prove successful but could it have been even more successful if the execution has been smarter?

Bringing it back to the general social theme of my blog, what do I think they should have done?
  1. Encourage sharing - use a standard "send-to-friend" service in the email - why are they not using such a basic tool to get more people involved?
  2. Provide social bookmarking in the email so that people could post the content to their networks - Easter is abput friends & family, so encourage people to spread the word
  3. Reward people for spreading the content virally - why not offer anyone who sends the email to X friends a bonus Y% off their order? Or free delivery. Or a free gift.
  4. Get online and get people excited about it!! Now this is supposition but I think there will have been zero online PR for this campaign - there should have been some content syndicated to raise awareness & the offer driven via channels such as the affiliate base

I guess my main point here is that people undersell themselves too easily and don't think laterally. A promotion is as effective as the interest of your customers and you limit the scope of involvement if you just send an email and put up a new homepage - you have to put all your eggs in one basket!

What do you think? Go to the Brora homepage and follow the instructions: do you get bored after the first 5 eggs and give up or does it really work for you? Please post comments, I welcome other viewpoints.

Friday, 3 April 2009

Should we expect responses from all Twitter messages?

Following some twitter banter this week i've decided to continue the political theme of last week's post. Don't worry, i'm not politicising my blog, I'm just interested by the usage of social media by politicians and political parties.

Last week's blog discussed the relevance of social media to politics; this week's reviews how a poorly thought through campaign can increase apathy amongst the target, or voting, audience. As with any social media presence, politicians need to understand the rules of engagement; if they want the kudos and benefits of our attention and affection, they need to take it seriously and give something back. In short, I think they have the following obligations:

  • Respond to comments and feedback
  • Maintain regular updates
  • Don't preach - give us opinion but let us think about it
  • Address negative PR
  • Entertain us!
I, like one man and his dog, follow Downing Street on Twitter. I guess I'm intrigued to see the Labout spin monster in motion but also the pure part of my heart longs for genuine engagement from a politician. This week I decided to post a reply to a tweet from Downing Street:

Granted, there was a certain cheekiness and provocation in this tweet but it was also playful and genuinely hoping for a response. I took the time to communicate with Downing Street so surely they would want to respond to create a positive impression? Wrong. 2 days later and still nothing.

In my view, if you accept me as a follower you should take me seriously and respond to my comments. If you had no intention of responding to all individuals, then at least make that clear in your bio or by putting a background to your twitter account with a short statement. When I use twitter I expect a response - everyone else i message achieves this.  That is what engagement is about. Twitter is not a marketing tool to push information at people - it is a conversation tool to interact and share content; without the interaction it is a PR stunt.

So tell me what you think - am I being unreasonable in expecting the Downing Street behemoth to respond to individual comments, however banal? Or should we demand better service from a public body that obviously wants the benefits of having a large follower base?

Please let me know your thoughts by posting comments to this blog.