The Big Money ranks the 50 brands that are currently making the best use of Facebook. The ranking is based on factors like number of fans, page growth, frequency of updates, creativity and fan engagement. Coca-Cola is ranked as the brand that makes best use of the social network thanks to its “organic fan-centric page without a corporate feel”. Here are the top 10:
Swedish fashion retailer H&M; is at number 24 (1,341,742 fans). The motivation for the ranking: “The High fan interaction. The fashion retailer has had success in generating tens of thousands of responses with polls.”
It is also interesting to find the U.S. retailer Target on #43. Target took some heat in early 2008, when a PR representative responded to a blogger request like this:
“Unfortunately we are unable to respond to your inquiry because Target does not participate with non-traditional media outlets.
This practice is in place to allow us to focus on publications that reach our core guest.”
It seems that Target indeed learned from that incident.
Canadian singer Dave Carroll became an instant hit on YouTube when he recorded and published the song “United Breaks Guitars”. The video describing how United Airlines broke his guitar, has been viewed 5.8 million times and has become a great case story for how consumers are putting pressure on businesses via social media.
In an interview, Mr. Carroll said that for more than an hour on Sunday, he was told he could not leave the international baggage claim area at Denver International Airport, where he had flown from Saskatchewan. He said he had been told to stay because his bag was delayed, not lost, and he had to be there to claim it when it came down the conveyor belt.
“I’m the only person pacing around this room,” Mr. Carroll said, recalling how he was caught between an order from United staff members to stay and collect his bag, and a federal customs official telling him he had to leave the baggage claim area. The bag never showed.
A United Airlines spokeswoman, Robin Urbanski, said, “We will fully investigate what regretfully happened.”
Social media like blogs and Twitter enable individual consumers to voice their opinions against brands and companies. From a consumer perspective I think this is mainly positive because it gives consumers more power in a relationship that previously was dominated by companies. David is closing in on Goliath. And most incidents where bloggers write really negative comments about brands, they are doing it as a last resource. They’ve tried all the normal routes for customer complaints without success and eventually make a final effort by taking their anger out on their blogs.
Norwegian blogger Vampus today blogged about the Carroll/United kerfuffle. She writes that social media can be used as black mail against politicians, businesses and organizations, but where only part of the truth is revealed. That may very well happen from time to time, which is why companies must not automatically surrender to criticism just because it is published on a blog. The customer is not always right and if you believe the blogger does not have a case, you should say so.
A terrific example of an organization that faced serious allegations from a blogger, and handled it well, is the TSA, the U.S. Transportation Security Administration. In a blog post headlined “tsa agents took my son”, a blogger claims her son was taken away from her during several minutes by TSA agents at Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson airport. But the TSA did not just apologize or admit wrong-doing just like that. Instead it investigated the accusations and published the findings on its blog, with CCTV footage and everything (first one video, then nine other from different angles), which showed that the claims were not true. As a result, the blogger backed down and apologized.
I think TSA would not have been able to respond so cleverly if it had not had a blog, so if you are looking for arguments why your organization should start a blog, that might be one. All in all, consumer complaints on blogs and other social media channels are going to increase (a new example today in Sweden from a blogger attacking the bank Nordea). Businesses need to monitor such comments and manage some, but there is no need to panic. With a decent strategy in place you can even survive an attack from a blogger.
Now and again we hear about celebrities and brands that have found their names hijacked on Twitter. Tony La Russa, the manager of the St. Louis Cardinals, recently threatened to take Twitter to court over a person who portrayed himself as La Russa on Twitter. Another example of a fake account is the Swedish writer and journalist Jan Guillou who’s Twitter account has been hijacked (although he doesn’t seem to mind).
But now Twitter may have found a solution to the problems with identity theft on the microblogging site. Twitter is launching Verified Accounts which means that celebrities and users with a large following may apply to get their accounts approved to show that it is in fact the real person behind the tweets.
“With this feature, you can easily see which accounts we know are ‘real’ and authentic. That means we’ve been in contact with the person or entity the account is representing and verified that it is approved. (This does not mean we have verified who, exactly, is writing the tweets.)”
Interbrand has released its annual ranking of the world’s best global brands 2008. Coca-Cola is still the number one brand with a brand value of 66,667 $m. Finland is leading the Nordic league with Nokia parked in fifth place, but the number of Swedish brands on the list have doubled from one to two. Apparel giant H&M; is one of 8 new brands on the top 100 list and is ranked in 22nd place with a brand value of 13,840 $m. IKEA also climbs from 38 to 35th place. Apart from the new brands on the list, Google is the strongest climber with an increase of 43% in brand value.
More and more businesses and organizations are on Twitter, the micro-blogging site. Fluent Simplicity has a long list of brands on Twitter. My employer, Burson-Marsteller, is not on the list but can be found on http://twitter.com/bmdigital. I can also add NRK and GCI Communique, both from Norway.
So, who’s on Jaiku? Let’s create a list, I suspect it will be pretty short. This is what I’ve got so far. Add more in the comments or by email.
Search engines increasingly play a vital role in how brands are perceived. A study in 2005 showed that 40%, or twenty of Britain’s top fifty grocery brands had negative commentary amongst the top ten results on their Google search page. For some the negative comment is the number one result. This week, Media Orchard wrote about a simple way of illustrating “the impression a brand’s Google results are making on potential customers (or investors, or employees)”.
By taking all the words in the first three pages of the search results for a brand, and add them into TagCrowd, Scott at Media Orchard got several “brand clouds”, this one below is for IKEA.
Here are the results for H&M.; Not quite as flattering as for IKEA. Common themes are children, child labour and cotton. TagCrowd doesn’t work very well in Swedish, but there is a stop list of Swedish words that can filter out unwanted words.