Social media is a double-edged sword. It has the power to bring you fame and the power to destroy you literally overnight. This may resonate most with Nikon and Lane Crawford, two brands that have found this out the hard way during the past week.
Last Friday, Nikon’s Singapore Facebook page drew flak for rewarding a Photoshopped image from its online photography contest NikonCaptures. The image, unsurprisingly, has been hijacked online, with a string of parodies in attempt to proof the dishonesty of the photographer and the negligence of the contest organiser.
Just when you think Nikon might be making apology statement filled with bureaucratic jargon to calm things down and re-electing the winner, it surprised us with a witty and convincing response, which has turned many angry voices into applause.
The statement started by saying the company believes “innovation and imagination are at the heart of every image”, and it welcomes “funny and witty entries being shared in response to our recently awarded image”, as NikonCaptures is meant to be a “casual photography contest”. Nikon also apologised for its oversight and said the contest’s regulations was being revisited.
The post has won more than 1,000 likes.
But that wasn’t enough to ease the tension. Another wave of debate was sparked over Nikon’s professionalism and the integrity even for a causal contest via some hundreds of comments to the post; and Nikon responded again.
It replied “we have heard your comments and feedback on this, and you are right – we should not compromise standards even for a casual photo contest.”
It continued that the “honest mistake” is a reminder to the “true spirit of photography is very much alive”, and pledged to avoid similar situations in the future.
This time commenters finally softened.
“Now THIS is called PR. Proud to be a Nikon convert,” one commenter wrote.
“Thank you, many photographers are using Nikon and we know the capability of your system. Please keep up the standards and keep us proud,” wrote another.
There’re inevitably opposing voices remain but the constant response from Nikon has successfully minimised the impact of a crisis in many ways.
Closer to home, a CNY initiative from Lane Crawford also didn’t go unnoticed.
The campaign, launched and ended last Friday, ran with an HTML5 page on which users were invited to create digital greeting cards in Chinese calligraphy. Users were able to write whatever they want on several CNY-themed backgrounds and to share greetings with friends on social media.
Highly engaging concept, easy-to-share content and well-executed visual – the campaign could have been a very refreshing CNY initiative in Hong Kong’s adland in years.
But what meant to be a CNY greeting platform rapidly turned into a mean for unruly online users to complain about the hefty prices of Lane Crawford’s merchandises, or even to express their anti-Chinese sentiments.
In the face of potential PR crisis, the luxury retailer deactivated the page before it actually become a crisis, killing the buzz that had been created on social media within hours.
In response to Marketing‘s inquiry, a Lane Crawford spokesperson said as part of a Chinese New Year programme, Lane Crawford invited the public to share customised good luck greetings with friends and loved ones using a special calligraphy tool.
“Following a campaign of comments posted by individuals seemingly intended to detract from the celebratory nature of the programme and some of which used obscene language, Lane Crawford chose to close the site to preserve the integrity of the game and those participants who respected it.”
How the saga ends maybe comforting enough for Lane Crawford and they’re probably glad that they’ve reacted quickly enough to prevent damage to the brand; but from the audience’s perspective, the retailer has backed out too early this time that has put a potential CNY project to waste.
It looks very likely that the campaign could go further if it had embraced “innovation and imagination” at the heart of the company, and welcomed “funny and witty entries being shared”, just like how Nikon managed the criticisms it received.
You can’t stop people from “creatively” using your platform but you can control what you response and how to react. The ways that the two companies used to ease PR crisis reflect their maturity on social media management.