Unintended Consequences of Brand-Customer E-Engagement
Abstract: Recent news reports (Sun, 2017) indicated that an average person spent about five years and four months in their lifetime on social media, which breaks down to about two hours per day spent on social media. The report also showed that these numbers will steadily increase in the future. On the extreme side, teenagers were shown to spend a staggering nine hours per day on social media sites. These are one of many examples showing that more and more of our social interaction has taken place in an online context (i.e., social media). Given this new reality, brands have increasingly spent their marketing resources in engaging their customers on social media sites.
Much like humans, brands too can make mistakes when communicating with their customers. The occurrence of these mistakes is especially intensified when the frequency of the brand-customer engagement increases. In most cases though, these mistakes are unintentional. Digital marketing practitioners have called these unintentional mistakes, social media blunders. Social media blunder is defined as a brand’s unintended mistake as a result of intensified online engagement between brands and customers. Digital marketing practitioners have documented the potential negative consequences of social media blunders, such as tarnished firm reputation and brand image (Boston Interactive, 2017).
We were able to obtain data from 20 companies showing various social media blunders committed by multinational firms that happened within the past 4 years. The data shows that both goods and service dominant based firm have equally committed social media blunders in the past. The most common channel where these blunders happened is through Twitter. Interestingly, the data also shows that the incident of social media blunders happened most commonly when they communicate non-product related messages, more specifically, social issues (e.g., Adidas, a running shoes company, insensitively tweeted “Congrats, you survived the Boston marathon”).
Joseph Zembo* and Rachel Burgess
Judging Forms – Official judges only