I’ve got a friend that works for a company that makes applications for businesses and advisers in a particular sector. The programs are for iOS/Android devices as well as fully featured web applications. This company will remain unnamed for this story.
They released a new app that would help be able to help people working within the sector to comply with some new legislation that was passed. As part of the launch celebration they gave access to a magazine/blog in the sector and had them do a press release/hype article. This article was fairly neutral and didn’t say too much about the application itself.
This particular website has a comments section and being in a competitive industry some of this companies competitors were quick to doubt the product and post inflammatory comments, at this point I would suggest someone from marketing or the leadership team make an account and start answering questions and providing support to anyone that has any questions.
Unfortunately they chose an alternative route. The CEO and marketing staff took to the website and started flaming people back with fake usernames and pretending to be clients and giving great reviews of the product.
One user ended up calling out the company and the marketers and announcing what was going on, the company is having a small internal crisis over this and many bucks are being passed.
I can’t help but feel that this all could have been prevented by the same people going onto this same site and providing information about the product and letting people know the benefits and potential future improvements they could have had a great PR piece with extra information for visitors that find this page later on. Right now if you search the product you’ll get an article filled with rage and embarrassing comments made by a company attempting to advertise themselves.
This is something more and more people will have to deal with as social media becomes a greater part of our lives, if someone at your company is considering jumping into an online discussion about your product in a negative way you need to immediately stop them and redirect them to a more positive discussion.
If you’re putting things online for people to judge you need to be ready to accept criticism and if you’re not prepared for it or deal with it you can miss some great opportunities.