In less than a week, political radio host Rush Limbaugh has seen upwards of 30 sponsors flee his radio program. Their migration began in response to a public boycott campaign which has relied heavily on social media.
The actions and inactions of Limbaugh and the companies involved provide lessons for marketers in how to respond to crises, buy media and even outflank competitors.
So you want to be active in social media and engage with your consumers and followers, but you're not sure if you can handle a negative situation?
Relax, it's not the end of the world. In this article, I'll be sharing with you a simple example that I faced not too long ago and how I managed to turn a potentially negative experience into a positive one.
Last week, in a deal that sounded too-good-to-be true, group-buying website Groupola was offering the new iPhone 4 for a mere £99, sim-free. Users had to simply register interest on the Groupola website, where they would then be emailed a link to buy the new must-have iPhone on Friday.
With such a tempting deal on offer, on Friday morning, the Groupola website faced major meltdown, and that's essentially what happened.
A Groupola spokesman said 5m unique users tried to access the site between 9am and 9.30am. That number seems incredibly far-fetched to us but obviously the website fell apart as a result of the demand.
With thousands (if not millions) of users unable to access the site, it's unsurprising that a wave of angry consumers took to social media channels to voice their outrage on Twitter and Facebook.
The process was mismanaged from start to finish, resulting in a PR fiasco for the company. So what could Groupola have done to avoid such an unmitigated disaster?
Another week, another Twitter travesty. This week it's Kevin Smith, who was kicked off a Southwest flight when the flight's captain apparently made the call that he was too heavy to occupy a single seat. Smith is a movie director with more than 1.5m followers on Twitter, and he let them know about his ordeal in near real-time.
The outcome was predictable: a new Twitter-induced media storm, and PR nightmare for Southwest.
Yesterday, Twitter flexed its muscles once again as a corporate
watchdog. An independent artist alleged that stationery company
Paperchase plagiarized her word and the allegation went viral on the popular microblogging service.
While the firestorm ensued, Paperchase, which is without much of a
social media presence, responded later in the day with an explanation.
Over the past few months, Twitter has been used as an effective campaign tool to expose the corporate misdemeanors of many large companies, including Trafigura, H&M, and KFC.
Paperchase is the latest recipient of a growing internet fire-storm, facing criticism over claims that the stationery giant allegedly plagiarised the artwork of a British, independent artist, decorating notebooks, tote bags and albums, and making them available for sale around the UK.
It's clear that the world has changed. There is simply nowhere for companies to hide: do something wrong or embarrassing, and internet users will respond rapidly to expose the corporate scandal in a matter of minutes.
Twitter wasn't the only high-profile internet company that didn't have a peaceful Easter weekend.
Online retail giant Amazon found itself on the receiving end of a firestorm over the apparent removal of sales rankings from gay and lesbian-themed books.