Last week, an ad for Motrin pain reliever targeting mothers created a firememe. Adage.com documents how the fire started, with some alpha bloggers posting and then taking the story to Twitter, where it lit up the service on Saturday and Sunday. You can also use search.twitter.com to view the activity on Twitter. Here’s a nice graph of the chatter, courtesy of the Jeremiah Owyang.
Long story short, the ad came down and McNeil Consumer Healthcare apologized.
I won’t spend much time on the controversy. My guess is that the agency on the Motrin account, Ajax, didn’t do any research. I showed the ad to a roomful of college students unfamiliar with the controversy, and they identified five copy points that marginalized the first-person mom of the narrative. Not exactly a smart strategy.
Were the mommys who criticized the ad out of line? It doesn’t matter. They did it because they hated the ad and had the tools to complain and effect change.
That’s life today. And that’s the lesson of this post.
On Monday morning, after a weekend of anti-Motrin chatter, I did a Google search and found no evidence of it. (regretfully, I didn’t do a screen grab). On Tuesday morning, there were a couple of references, from “news” at the top and from blogs on the bottom. That’s all. If you were a McNeil executive and did this, you would be blissfully unaware of any unhappy customers.
If this is all you do for personal or brand surveillance, it’s not enough. There’s a wall that separates traditional Internet use and social media use, and it used to be that most people stayed on the traditional side. Today, there’s a mass audience on the social side. So you need to monitor both – one more slow moving, the other, lighting fast.
Here are some basic suggestions:
- If you’re not currently using RSS to monitor the blogosphere, you need to. Stat.
- Ditto, RSS for monitoring searches from Google, Google blogs and other relevant search engines.
- You should monitor Backtype for blog comments.
- You should monitor Technorati.
- And for heaven’s sake, get on Twitter, participate, and learn about his unique culture.
Two more points. Your brand needs a “safety valve” for disgruntled stakeholders (why is no one “gruntled” these days?). If you have a social media presence, they can bring their comments to you, where you can participate, listen, act on suggestions and defuse the controversy. Note: it’s also good to hear from happy stakeholders. Here are some websites where smart companies facilitate communication with their customers:
If you can’t create a site like these, don’t worry. A well-written blog – one written by a real human in a real voice – should serve you well. Once you’ve created the blog, feed it, create relationships and participate in the social chatter.
Second, you need to monitor your reputation 24/7/365. The Internet never sleeps. Accept it and adapt. If people are mad at you, you don’t want to give them a four hour head start.
Social media are at a tipping point. Moving forward, you can’t afford to not be in the game. You can’t afford to not have a plan. Staying out? That can give you one big headache.
What listening tools and strategies do you recommend?