For any company to be successful, the connection it has with its consumers is of extreme relevance. The way it connects, the way it engages and the way it is able to evoke emotions among its consumers to build relationships are elements that interplay collectively to create a powerful brand. Companies invest heavily in branding to not only understand customer needs and wants but also to compete better than competition. This process is demanding, costly and highly volatile. Let’s briefly discuss these three factors.
- Demanding: It is demanding in terms of effort required – a company requires specialized strategists who carrying our massive brainstorming to model an effective branding strategy. In the process, companies carry out massive research on where they are doing well and the areas they can capitalize on.
- Costly: Branding is expensive! Not only in terms of money but also in terms of time and manpower a company invests to help itself reach a point where it becomes renowned to the target customers.
- Volatile: While companies strive to oblige with the two former criteria, a single minute error can tarnish brand image. This is particularly true in the era of social media where brands attempt to relate with consumers via this channel due to the large presence of consumers. If a brand falls in the trap of committing a silly error, it can affect its image adversely. AND LINKEDIN HAS DONE JUST THAT!
On Monday, June 25, 2012, 2am CET, LinkedIn launched an update on its Facebook page stating that Reid Hoffman, the chairperson of the company, had visited the company’s Japanese branch to attend an event. Supposedly, this piece of communication was to hold a link to a video of the event which was directed at people who follow LinkedIn activities on Facebook. Apparently, no link as such as included along with the message. Take a look at this:
Within seconds of the post, one user pointed out what was missing. Within minutes, a second user expressed his discontent. A couple of minutes later, a third user attempted to send out a message to the team responsible for branding and/or social media at LinkedIn by stating what to do to carry out effective media branding (clear as you can see in the image above).
For a while, LinkedIn had not responded to any of the three users who posted comments. Now, what should have LinkedIn done or do? Let the issue cool down or acknowledge the error. The COO of Facebook, Sheryl Sandberg pointed out at the iStrategy Conference in 2011 how brands should react to customer outrage on social media. She stated that furious consumers are just a simple apology away from becoming a brand ambassador. We’ll see if LinkedIn realizes this and complies with the commandment revealed by Sandberg. On the contrary, we can also witness if LinkedIn decides to go with the flow.