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How O2 avoided an online PR crisis

How O2 avoided an online PR crisis

Back in the day, life was that little bit simpler: You only had one phone number per friend to remember, there was never the threat of ugly pictures of yourself popping up on the Internet (you didn’t have the Internet!) and what’s more a customer complaint stayed between the company and the customer.

Then came along the digital revolution, and the rest is history. Now, if a customer needs to complain they have a choice of soapboxes to stand on. Customers are not only making the business aware of their issues but thanks to the multiple public platforms available to them, they are also broadcasting their complaint to other members of the public. It’s very interesting to see how a company chooses to respond to these very public complaints, in my opinion, it could be exactly what makes them or breaks them.

So, when O2 services went down last week it was only natural that O2 customers turned to Twitter to vent their frustration. O2’s response? They replied humorously:

How O2 avoided an online PR crisis


Now, this was either very clever of them or very stupid, and I suspect for the first hour everyone was holding their breath. But after responding to hundreds of angry tweets in this manner, others started noticing and joining in the fun.  However, there was still a tiny bit of resentment on the customers’ part

How O2 avoided an online PR crisis

The risk paid off, turning their company crisis into a great PR opportunity. The O2 Twitter account soon became a must watch online with the bitter anger the customers held a day before now turning into ‘love’:

How O2 avoided an online PR crisis

With followers even trying to help them trend for the right reasons, not the hostile signal failing ones:

How O2 avoided an online PR crisis

You might be wondering how on earth did this work in their favour? And here is my theory, the customers sending in angry messages were expecting to hear back the usual pitch about contacting customer services, which in most peoples experience doesn’t get you anywhere. When O2 replied with the random humorous (but argumentative) messages, it threw people off course; they didn’t know how to respond. We all know what it’s like when you are trying to be angry with someone but they keep making you laugh…you’re not angry for long, are you?

So, there you have it – how to dodge a potentially fatal company crisis with humour. Brilliant.



 The social pin-boarding site has only been on the social scene for two years (not even a year yet in the UK), and already it’s taking the digital world by storm – doubling its number of unique visitors to 4 million since January.

In case you’re not familiar with the site, Pinterest is a place to organise and share online images that you may find interesting or inspiring.  Once uploaded or shared on Pinterest, these images become known as ‘pins’, which the user can place on customised themed boards.

Some people use the site to share images they find on the web, while others use the site from a more creative perspective. For example, many artists use Pinterest to arrange inspiring images for their work. While bakers may use the social networking site to showcase images of their creative cake collection and interior designers could use it as a platform for different design themes.

Brands, on the other hand, are using it to communicate to their audience through the use of images that best reflect what the brand is currently up to.  An example of a brand that is using Pinterest particularly well is Ikea.

The Swedish furniture store has 15 pin boards, including product ideas and ‘pin it to win it’ competitions hosted weekly – a great way to get people engaged and grow their existing community.

The site uses striking images to represent theme ideas for different rooms.  Some of the images also include price information for each product, so it essentially acts as an extension of its catalogue.

One of its more eye-catching boards for its ‘True Blue’ product range is inspired by Indian Culture, this however, doesn’t seem to be linked to its homepage which could minimise their efforts.


Ann Summers take their social media to the next level

Ann Summers have managed to add over 250,000 new Facebook fans in the last three months alone. As a result, the retailer has rocketed 36 places up the Facebook League table since the last study back in December 2011.

So how have they managed it? The answer is high-profile campaigns.

The People’s Panel concept started the social media ball rolling. The campaign searched for 10 women from across the UK who wanted to work with the sexy brand to create a new and unique sex toy – known as ‘The People’s Vibrator’. Chief Executive of Ann Summers, Jacqueline Gold, said: “We sell more than two million sex toys a year and we know the appetite to create and design a toy that will revolutionize orgasms is absolutely there; it is a great way of giving women exactly what they want. This panel of talented women will be followed by a TV crew on their unique journey and we hope they will deliver a product that will blow our minds.”

The People’s Panel is a great example of a brand becoming aware of its consumers and recognising that social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter are key to reaching these ‘everyday’ consumers.

Ann Summers integrated a second 3-month campaign to find a new face of the brand for the 2012 Valentines campaign. Lucy Moore beat over 4,000 other entrants and was one of the few curvy girls to take part in the competition. Lucy, who studies criminal justice at the University of Westminster, won with 22 percent of the votes.  The big reveal caused quite a stir online and in national, regional, trade and broadcast media.

In addition, the lingerie brand launched a jaw-dropping campaign right here in Wardour Street. To celebrate National Cleavage day and the launch of their refurbished Wardour Street store, 20+ women marched along Oxford Street in their underwear in front of shocked and delighted onlookers. The march can be viewed here on the Ann Summers YouTube page – note that it’s reached nearly 10,000 views!

CEO of Ann Summers, Jacqueline Gold, has an impressive 24k Twitter following. She continues to run a Women on Wednesday competition, hash-tagged as the #WOW competition. From 1-3pm every Wednesday, over 200 female entrepreneurs tweet Jacqueline about their business in the hope of a retweet and a #WOW winning badge.

Clever and regular campaigns result in social media success, that much is undebateable but still, a lot of brands are neglecting their social media accounts over periods when social networking activity is at its highest. To improve strategies and to develop their following, retailers need to ensure that they are researching their social media audience and releasing the types of content. Ann Summers are doing this incredibly well at the moment – their social media is obviously in safe hands…

Instagram bought by Facebook – how will this affect the Instagram community?

Unless you have been asleep for the last week, chances are you have heard the news that Facebook has bought the 2-year-old app ‘Instagram’ for a whopping 1 billion USD. Breaking it down that works out at $80million per employee and $33 for each of their 33 million users. An offer I’m sure was very hard to refuse!

The news of this broke on Monday morning when Mark Zuckerberg himself took to Facebook to announce the new integration.

This was met with a mixed reaction. Many loyal Instagram-ers pledged to delete their account following the news claiming that Facebook would destroy it. The main reason for this reaction being that the whole world is yet to find out about Instagram, and that’s how users like it. As successful apps go this one is pretty niche, and although they have a strong 33 million following, the users represent its quirky arty nature through their photos. People fear that with an industry giant such as Facebook taking over the app it will turn into yet another mainstream public service. It’s comparable to when Coca-cola bought shares in healthy brand ‘Innocent’ – to an extent it could be seen as degrading the brand personality, replacing it with connotations associated with the buyer.

Not all responses were as extreme and others seemed amiable to the convergence of the two social networks claiming they already share their photos on Facebook, so it makes no difference.

At first, I was unsure as to which party I agreed with. As an avid Instagram user, I can understand the opinions of those deleting their accounts. The quirkiness of the app is why I like it, and in a way, it’s a ‘cool’ secret that I share with my community on there, which is significantly smaller to my Facebook community. And I, personally, do not share my Instagram photos on Facebook; only a select few make it onto Twitter. So it does feel like an intrusion on Facebook’s part.

However, Zuckerberg clearly states that Instagram isn’t changing.  They are supporting the (now very wealthy) creators of Instagram in improving its services and help enable others to use it. As much as I love the app I could list a few of its flaws, and if Zuckerberg and his team can help fix these then surely it’s a win-win situation. Instagram remains the same brand with help from a super brand to make it better.

The founders of Instagram, Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, are probably thinking this is too good to be true. Their two year old business has made them millionaires overnight and they are able to continue developing as if it was still there own.

In addition, Instagram is a free app, meaning that sooner or later users would have had to start paying or the developers would have had to start rolling in ads. Which I’m guessing would have sparked the same boycott as this news has. How else would they have repaid the investors? From this perspective, Facebook has saved Instagram from a foggy future.

Alas, as many have learnt, nothing is too good to be true and I fail to believe that Facebook are doing this out of the kindness of their cyber heart. After all, Instagram is one of the largest mobile social networks around, and Facebook needs mobile to work…