Can social-media slip-ups have a lasting effect on a brand? The Marketing Society Forum

Paddy Power has been criticised for retweeting a bet query about a footballer having a heart attack.

MAYBE - Jan Gooding, Global marketing director, Aviva

The one thing we know about social media is that news travels incredibly fast to huge numbers of people and inspires action.

Any brand owner's worst nightmare would be a slip-up being magnified to such an extent it causes the loss of customers and long-term damage to reputation. Whether that terror materialises depends on the brand's response.

One thing we know about brands is that they are resilient and can be forgiven the occasional slipup. That is if they are prepared to admit they got it wrong and try to fix it. Our experience at Aviva has shown us the importance of listening and being prepared to engage authentically in this space. Being involved and learning is the only way to reduce the risks.

NO - Kelly Rafferty, Former marketing director, Kerry Foods

Consumers and shareholders will not judge brands and brand owners on the specific slip-up, but on their actions thereafter.

A proactive acknowledgment and creditable response can not only restore confidence but also add value.

A timely response is critical, particularly in online environ-ments. Invest time in crafting the message and get it right. Perceived authority is crucial; that does not necessarily mean a response from the chief executive every time, but pitch accordingly to give the message creditability and gravitas.

Implementation of the learning is key, especially when brands get it wrong, and is testament to their commitment to get it right.

YES - Phil Rumbol, Founding partner, 101

If a person I didn't like said some-thing offensive, it would have a lasting effect on my view of them - particularly if they didn't have the grace to apologise.

A slip-up in social media is no different. Whether the mud sticks depends on how bad the gaffe is, whether or not it 'fits' with the prevailing brand sentiment, and the response to the situation.

Innocent recently made a big mistake in social media. However, I suspect it will soon be a distant memory because of the positive sentiment toward the brand and the characteristic humility of its response.

Nonetheless, a similar mistake would have a lasting effect on a brand with negative sentiment and a stiff corporate response.

MAYBE - Geri Richards, Chief executive, Publicis Blueprint.

The way brands communicate has, of course, completely transformed. No longer a flat, static medium, brand engagement is ever-changing.

The immediacy of Twitter and Facebook creates a perfect slip-up environment, and mistakes are inevitable. However, if a brand apologises for an ill-judged comment, it will often be enough to quell a brewing media storm.

As a minimum precaution, every brand should have a socialmedia policy and content guardians to help minimise mistakes.


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