Online reputation management is a fine balance as it is - so what pushes some companies to risk sabotaging theirs?
Californian student Patrick Burtchaell put Microsoft in hot water with a July 2016 tweet, transforming a recruitment email into one of the year’s biggest branding blunders so far.
Microsoft University Recruiter Kim may speak millennial, but even her target audience were unable to take the message seriously. The invitation to meet the MS team at Internapalooza and attend the company’s after party made reference to refreshments and finger food on the house, music and Yammer sponsored beer pong tables. However, responses to Burtchaell’s tweet were led by a pointed reference to Microsoft’s Windows 10 release. “So the beer pong tables will be underperforming, lacking in features and will be ignored by the partygoers 5 minutes after use?” was liked almost 500 times, retweeted 26 times and prompted additional jibes.
In addition to the likes of “wow. That’s bad from a bro-gramming startup. Much worse from MS” and “if that's how they've been recruiting, I now understand why their software is crap”, web security influencer and Microsoft employee, Barry Dorrans, responded with “PR confirmed it. I'm going to go sob in a corner.”
To make matters worse, several news agencies reached out to Burtchaell, including Selena Larson of The Daily Dot. Her request for comment caught the attention of Microsoft employee, Mitchel Lewis, who kicked the social media misadventure into high fidelity scandal. Accusing the MS human resources department of substandard practices and botching the recruitment email debacle, Lewis ended up exposing an internal email exchange and risking termination. This, in turn, was less than complimentary for the brand’s image.
Investing in social and news monitoring solutions is paramount to branding, as Microsoft’s cautionary tale shows. In this networked society, it’s clearly vital to monitor your community’s conversations. The purpose? So you’re never the last to know. Perhaps even more importantly - so that you’re there when your voice is needed the most. Be it clarification, reassurance, accepting feedback or simply lending an ear, brands of all shapes and sizes fare better with a good understanding of their reputation.
For more tips, read about dealing with email marketing nightmares, as well as other tid bits on customer crisis management and corporate identity theft.