Socially Responsive: 2 Great Moves This Week

February 3, 2012

Two large organizations heard the power of social media this week and gave two very different, but equally impressive, responses.

The UK’s 3rd largest grocery store, Sainsbury’s, watched a good customer care response go viral, and turned that into a great social response which gave their customers a warm, fluffy feeling not normally expected from a large corporate.

Last year, Lily Robinson was in the bakery aisle with her mother on a trip to the supermarket when she was puzzled by the tiger bread. Which was - in her 3-year-old opinion - displaying giraffe-shaped markings rather than the stripes of a tiger.

She was mystified enough that she wrote to Sainsburys to ask the rationale behind the name and received a friendly response from the service team who played along. "I think renaming tiger bread giraffe bread is a brilliant idea. It looks much more like a giraffe than the stripes on a tiger."

After Lily’s mother posted the letter on her blog, which experienced two viral surges, Sainsburys seized a public relations opportunity and announced this week it was changing the name of Tiger Bread to – you guessed it - Giraffe Bread. It then sat back and rode the wave of people approval not just on the social networks, but also in the media.

In contrast, felt negative pressure this week. Customers took to the networks en-masse to voice displeasure over a proposed fee structure for the long-awaited analytics features coming in the Spring ’12 release. Many saw the improvements, which bring parity in the business intelligence capabilities of the system, as long overdue. As they had bought-in to a software-as-a-service solution, they believed they should automatically benefit from feature improvements. They did not expect to be asked to pay for what they felt was a necessity, rather than a ‘nice to have’.

Salesforce demonstrated true agility by listening to the disquiet and performing a U-Turn on the fee structure, posting their decision on their product blog this week. So kudos, too, to As the manufacturer of the social media monitoring and engagement tool (Radian6), it’s good to hear they are drinking their own champagne. Or eating their own giraffe bread.

The morale of the story? Listen to social networks, monitor the feeling - and respond where and when appropriate. The platform is a great opportunity for companies to respond to criticism in a positive way or, as Sainsbury’s did, to seize a public relations opportunity positively.

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