The Ensitel case ended out with the company accepting to withdraw the complaint against their client. They also publicaly apologized for their inadequated attitude online. Additionally, the company also informed that they would now implement new ways for the customers to communicate with them in case of difficulties or problems, which doesn’t mean they intend to be as flexible as they were on this specific case. Apparently, Ensitel took the right action and now their wall on Facebook has calmed down. However, the “fake page” has still more followers than the real brand page, which can at any time jeopardize their image. The company has a long way to recover the consumer’s trust.
It was the first time in Portugal that a brand’s reputation was hit by a severe online public attack, by its own consumers or general public who empathysed with the client. I believe the extent of the attack is related to three main reasons: the well known blogger involved, the right timming for action on the timeline (when no other trends were taking the general attention) and a massive common equipment like a cell phone. I’m sure the end wouldn’t have been the same if it was happening with a common unknown blogger, if the timeline was occupied with a hot specific subject and if the product itself was indifferent to most people.
I’d like to analyse the situation on a different perspective now, from the point of view of the community responsibility. To what extent are the social media users feeling responsible for what we (in)put to a company site? And will ever companies be prepared for a massive attack from the online community?
I believe the consumer and the online community must also start acting in a responsible way, with a critical but non aggressive attitude, towards the organisations. The internet is prolific in aggressions because people feel protected and untouchable when acting in anonymity or in group. In my opinion, a well informed but also a respectful community must also be a goal and a must if we all claim for a better communication. It’s not a one-way talk, it’s a dialogue, and dialogue is only possible when both parties keep respect above the conversation itself. I’ve seen lots of aggressive words and even xenophobic comments on the facebook page. I believe both the overall social community and brands must improve communication skills.
On the other hand, we do know that Public Relations gurus are not everywhere. A Public Relations is still a luxury member for most of the companies worldwide. Big companies and top brands have marketing and public relations departments. But what about the myriad of small enterprises, whether in US or EU, let alone other markets? How can we expect them to have a consistent policy for crisis management when all they can do is selling and struggling to survive?
These are new issues arising from the massive use of internet as a communication tool and even more recent social media tools. All the community is on learning mode, not only companies and brands. I think we should keep it fair both ways. What do you think?