A couple of years ago, an airline ran a seemingly ‘harmless’ advert. It was meant to be their crowning moment. A non-stop service from South Korea to Kenya. But something went horribly wrong. My guess is that the advert’s message was written in Korean and translated to English.
Fly to Nairobi with Korean Air and enjoy the African savanna, the safari tour, and the…” This is the point everything went South “…indigenous people full of primitive energy.”
Within hours, the social media landscape was awash with protests. Not only were Kenyans disgusted with the advert, it sparked off an outrage, especially #PrimitiveEnergy on Twitter. Needless to say, the airline was forced to issue an apology. Credit to them, it was done within twenty four hours, but the damage had already been done. And this three weeks before the said service was to launch!
In their book A World Gone Social, Ted Coiné and Mark Babbitt engage us with how important is is for companies to adapt to survive. Social media is playing an ever bigger role in the way companies function. From recruitment of new staff to how senior executives behave.
Our world has gone social, that’s a fact that companies have to contend with. The example above is just one of many. News is traveling faster and faster. It is fueled by hash-tags and mobile phone penetration even in rural areas. You can’t hide from your customers anymore.
Employers can’t control the message. In social media, its far more difficult for companies to manipulate, to sway opinion via sound bites and slogans as they could using old-school marketing techniques. Just like your customers, potential employees expect employers to be engaging through social media. No Matter their size, legacy, or culture, on social media employers are expected to be…human. Caring, engaging humans.”
It is a stark reminder that companies unwilling to change will play the role of dinosaurs: destined for extinction. It is a matter of innovation or death, engage or find yourself with a slow, unstoppable hemorrhage.
And the social media landscape can get even more punishing. It doesn’t matter whether you delete any undesirable social media mentions. That footprint lasts for a long time, thanks to re-sharing and re-broadcasting by other users. It will definitely appear in web searches.
What lessons can you expect to engage with from A World Gone Social?
- Customers now have the power.
- Employees and job seekers have a collective – and socially amplified – voice.
- Engagement – with partners, employees, and customers – is a core requirement.
- Command-and-control leadership, once the industry standard, is now a liability.
- Nimble is a competitive advantage; few large corporations are capable of the agility required.
- Brand ambassadors are won – and retained – through relationship and community building.
- Ethics is now more apparent – hiding in mahogany boardrooms is not an option.
How is your company, organization or even yourself adapting in this social age? Click here to share in the comment section below.