Brand Apologies Consuming Twitter?

Its not hard to believe that Twitter has already seen its share of celebrities and brands two-stepping PO’d consumers (or fans) and inserting their digital foot-in-mouth at the response of an angry consumer mob to an innocent or ignorant Tweet.

Most recently, good ole Cleveland found itself on the receiving end of Purrell’s online account when it tweeted during the Super Bowl Sunday game with a taunt about the Broncos looking as bad as the Browns… not granted this is true, but Cleveland sports fans are loyal and have a Twitter voice equal to getting the tweet removed by Monday morning, apologies on Twitter and the Plain Dealer website (Cleveland’s major newspaper) promising nothing like that would happen again… Ashton Kutcher, PizzaHut, BurgerKing, and others know what its like to back track after Tweeting before checking facts or trying to save customers at the offence of an employee.

I even remember reading about a MarCom posting a negative Tweet after landing in a less than fabulous midwest city… then show up at the client meeting a few hours later to be canned at the cost of the client having read the Tweet and been offended because they were proud of its hometown, aka humble midwest roots.

In fact, a linguistics expert analyzed the way we apologize on Twitter after studying 1183 apologies issued by corporations, celebrities and normal folks between 2010 and 2012 for a Bloomberg Business Week article. First result: Corporations apologize A LOT! having used the word “sorry” at 8.6 times the frequency of individuals and “regret” used an incredible 37.5 times more frequently by companies than individuals.

The quality of the apology can also impact how consumers perceive a brand. Companies rarely restated when they’re apologizing for, which is a way to obscure the initial offense, and were likely to stop short of accepting blame. However, in place of sincerity, companies often offered action.

Joshua March, the founder of Conversocial, which helps companies with social media customer service, says companies who want to be edgy just need to be ready for a bit of blowback. It’s not hard to predict that football fans are going to be irked by gratuitous swipes at their teams. “If you make a joke that way,” he says, “you’re obviously going to get flak.” March often finds that corporate executives get instantly spooked by negative comments on social media and tend to panic.

In the end, companies will continue to use social media as a way to engage its audience, sell more product and hopefully increase their brand’s preference against competitors. And if apologizing to each consumer with a complain online helps, then I expect brands will continue their effort to make customers happy and use their social presence to reflect company values.

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About promotionalguru

A marketing communications professional helping other marketing professionals, business leaders and marketing students gain a better understanding of trends in advertising and public relations as well as tips for being a successful marketer.

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