Social Activism = Major Reputation Issues for Brands
When I was in Atlanta last week at the Digital Summit, Dallas Lawrence spoke about “Social Activism” in his piece during the Reputation Management session and it made me realize how much power activists can hold over a brand online. Surely people can topple governments via social media but I was unaware that activists had the exact impact on brands worldwide.
Take for example last March, Greenpeace’s “Ask Nestlé to Give Rainforests A Break” initiative to stop them from using palm oil in their products.
The video has 443,555 views and was named Best Viral Video 2010 at the Viral Video Awards during the Berlin International Short Film Festival. Nestlé quickly responded by stopping the purchase of palm oil and releasing this information in April 2010.
In June of 2009 FedEx launched Brown Bailout, an online campaign against UPS that claimed:
“UPS lobbyists have buried a short 230-word legislative bailout deep inside the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2009 currently before Congress. It’s worth billions to ‘Big Brown’ at the expense of today’s American economy that thrives on next-day commerce.”
The site drove ridiculous traffic and has over 325,000 “Likes” on Facebook. The clause was later removed from the act and FedEx claimed victory, but the Brown Bailout site is still up and active (the last post coming from February of 2011).
Arguably the most powerful act of social activism came from Eric Jackson in January of 2007, when he uploaded his video Yahoo! Plan B to the web. At the time of this video, Jackson only held a meager 96 shares of Yahoo! and had about 10 readers on his blog. He was interviewed by CNBC and other investors quickly joined Jackson. Before he knew there was a voting bloc of about 2.6 million shares behind his cause. Yahoo!’s CEO Terry Semel soon resigned after the massive outcry for Plan B, with Eric Jackson receiving worldwide praise for the changes.
Reputation Management is one of the biggest and most important topics in Social Media today. How do you respond to problem with your brand online? What is your reputation management disaster plan?