A flash mob (or flashmob) is a group of people who assemble suddenly in a place, perform an unusual and seemingly pointless act for a brief time, then disperse, often for the purposes of entertainment, satire, and artistic expression. Flash mobs are organized via telecommunications, social media, or viral emails (Source: Wikipedia)
Online flashmobs are the worst. When negativity and ridicule spread like wildfire on social networks, the brands have the toughest time to defend themselves. Remember Bic’s “Pens for Her”? The new product release generated outrageously funny client reviews on amazon.com, that will stay there and haunt the brand long after the waves of outrage subside. “Bics for Her” search in Google brings up disastrous results for the brand, whose product turned into a meme seemingly overnight. Other examples of flashmobs and social media crisis case studies include Motrin moms, McDonalds #McDStories campaign, and more. So what can the brands “under attack” really do?
Brands: Avoid War Whenever Possible
There is an app for that – I meant to say, there’s a terrific book on strategy for issues management. Pick it up and read it: The Art of War by Sun Tzu. Rule number one: avoid war whenever possible. When social media crisis hits your brand, that’s almost too late. You find your brand in the war situation which you should have been spending time and money to avoid. Spend your time on social media wisely – set out your brand’s principles and values, tell your story, establish reputation, create trust. Prevention of social media crisis is your best defense against online flashmobs. Who wants to be the next meme, the laughing stock of the world wide web? If there ever was a reason for your brand to be inherently social, to integrate digital thinking into its operations, re-examine the brand inside out and fix issues that you find, this is it. Of course there are steps to take when social media crisis hits, even if you haven’t been active online. Ask yourself though: Why not win your wars by default? Why not have it your way?
“So it is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you can win a hundred battles without a single loss. If you only know yourself, but not your opponent, you may win or may lose. If you know neither yourself nor your enemy, you will always endanger yourself.” - The Art of War by Sun Tzu.