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August 2, 2010

Social Media at Domino's : For the Good Times and the Bad





There are very few companies that have used social media effectively and appropriately.In most cases social media is used by companies and brands to differentiate, engage and interact with their users. While Social media is just another distribution channel where your distributors are your users, who evangelizes your brand and makes you more visible on the web, the challenge is not only about using social media as a crisis management tool but also during the good times. Social media is all about reaching your users at the time when they are at their vulnerable best

The social media evolution has led to many company having a PR nightmare scenario: A national fast-food chain has to respond to a video, spreading rapidly online, that shows one of its employees picking his nose and placing the result in the food he's making.

That's exactly what Domino's (DPZ), the nation's largest pizza delivery chain, has been subjected to last year in May

Two employees — fired and facing charges had posted a video on YouTube on Monday that shows one of them doing gross things to a Domino's sub sandwich he is making. Among them: sticking cheese pieces up his nose and passing gas on the salami.

This is the worst case of PR disaster and the problem was that these videos went viarl in terms of its social media presence, Domino's Pizza who otherwise has a very efficient and effective social media presence gets a lot of things right

However What Domino's could not plan for, was that two of its employees at a North Carolina franchise would use the social media to show their ire on their erstwhile employer. This broadcast which was uploaded on youtube and this led the company into facing the worst kind of media coverage which got covered both across the online media and went mainstream quickly. This damaged Domino's reputation in ways that was unparalleled in post social media corporate America .

The video, which, among other things, features an employee who farts and sneezes on a sandwich, was viewed over 500,000 times. And marketers are getting an instant lesson in the dangers of an online world where just about anyone with a video camera and a grudge can bring a company to its knees with lightning speed
.
"Nothing is local anymore
," Domino's spokesman Tim McIntyre says. "That's the challenge of the digital world. Any two idiots with a video camera and a dumb idea can damage the reputation of a 50-year-old brand.

When the fired Domino's employees video first hit YouTube, the company was caught off guard and only made a statement after 24 hours. By then it was too late .. social media works real time 24/7. To be fair to Domino's while the company did come out and gave their side of the story...It was only left with defending a brand that had been torn into shreds overnight by 2 fired employee's with a video camera in their hands and access to youtube. No matter what Domino's did ..it could never match upto what their fired employee's did in terms of visual drama.

This is a big lesson to Companies who feels that their larger than life brand legacy is too strong to be affected.Today it is not the big screw ups by companies which affects your brand, but your relationship with your users and peers, from the guy in the shop floor to your newest recruit ..they are your brand evangelists...

But Domino's is getting fairly high marks from social-networking and crisis-management gurus about its response.According to US Today,Domino's was also considering banning video cameras from its stores,which will probably do nothing to alleviate consumers' concerns.This would also stop the positive reviews & user experience for the brand 's internal users. What companies should not do during times like this, is to make sure that "Abusers.. dont let ordinary users Suffer"

The Domino's story also shows that if your brand is already on shaky ground something like this can bring it down further.Whereas, if it’s otherwise strong, an incident like this will likely constitute a blip that can be addressed with prompt action.