The Power of Social Media at Work – How your fan base can damage your brand
There are numerous strategies to promote the launch of a new product. Some companies use teaser advertisements to generate interest in the lead up to the launch. Other companies keep the product a secret until launch day. In the digital age we live in, adopting the wrong strategy could result in significant brand damage.
Take Thermomix as an example. Thermomix is a kitchen appliance that combines 12 different functions in one model including mixing, chopping, blending and cooking. They launched the new version of Thermomix on Saturday, 6 September 2014. The new version was promoted as being “newer, bigger, better and more digitally advanced” than the version before it.
Thermomix released the new version without any prior warning. As you would appreciate, recent purchasers of the earlier and now outdated version (the TM31 model), were not impressed by the secret launch.
These unhappy customers took to social media and other means to complain about the launch and Thermomix’s failure to warn them that about the launch of the new model. The customers flooded the company’s Facebook page with complaints and even set up a ‘Thermomix Unhappy Customers’ Facebook page. Accordingly to Georgina Shelley the page was created for “sharing information and banding together, because they’re not listening to us as individuals.”
This Facebook page was not only a forum for customers to vent their concerns and frustrations. It also encouraged people to sign a petition, to register their complaint with the Consumer Affairs/Office of Fair Trading and to share media coverage on this dispute. As at 15 September, this Facebook page had 2880 likes.
The unhappy customers were not the only ones talking about the launch. Tom Godfrey from Choice issued a statement on the launch which included the following:
“While it doesn’t appear the company has broken the law, they ground down the trust with their own loyal fan base. When weighing up the knead (sic) to accurately inform the public we don’t believe they got the mix right this time.”
This case clearly highlights the power of social media. Thermomix listened to their unhappy customers and on 11 September 2014 Thermomix issued the following statement. Thermomix were “deeply sorry that this has resulted in some of our very valuable customers feeling disappointed. …. We are currently working with our team to address the concerns of those customers that recently purchased a TM31…”.
Thermomix have now offered customers who purchased their TM31 on or after 1st July and prior to 20th August a free bowl, blade and lid set.
For more information on your legal obligations on social media please contact our experienced lawyer: