A few days ago, BPI, one of the leading meat processing innovators found itself engulfed in a social media firestorm.
Despite years of evidence that its “lean textured” beef products were safe from the industry and approval from the the USDA, founder Eldon Roth found himself and his company on the wrong end of a social media firestorm.
A Houston-based mom and food blogger, Bettina Siegel discovered that BPIs products were being used in school lunches to be fed to almost 7 million kids.
She had previously read a report dubbing this unique approach to meat processing as “pink slime” and others that questioned it safety.
She went to Change.org to launch a petition, demanding that Secretary of Agriculture Vilsack immediately cease the usage of BPIs products in school lunches.
In one weekend, 137,000 people signed it.
Now, the entire meat industry has taken a hit. Roth’s company, BPI, may have to close permanently and others have had to cut back production significantly because of the crushing reduction in demand from their customers (schools, but also fast-food chains like McDonalds and Burger King.)
The meat industry, which admittedly has taken a lot of heat in recent years, is reeling once again and the impact is measurable in a financial way.
Lessons for Social Crisis Management@Scale.
The important thing here is NOT your feelings about the meat industry. The important thing here is that in an age of social media, ANYONE who has ANY issue with the what/how/why you do business can (and probably will) launch some sort of protest against your business and its practices.
Many of them won’t amount to anything, but we’re not worried about those.
We’re worried about the ones that will and the need to be ready for it today.
Though it is a 2 year old story, it still is worth sharing.
Pampers launched a new diaper brand called DryMax.
One Mommy Blogger observed that her baby had a horrific rash while wearing the new diapers and jumped to the conclusion that the diapers were the cause.
She launched an online protest and a class action suit was eventually filed.
Instead…they reached out to a group of 50 Mommy Bloggers whom they had previously cultivated (not bought off) by sharing with them the details of the DryMax diaper and the science behind it.
While the firestorm wasn’t stopped completely, it was minimized as these brand advocates, who had been nurtured before P&G needed them were activated to defend the Brand.
The Pieces of the Puzzle
You need a strategy in place to find and cultivate your brand advocates before you need them. A social media firestorm will happen…to all of us.
You need a scalable technology platform to identify, manage, and activate those relationships over time
And you need the service infrastructure in place to respond when the Crisis does hit.
- Blog by Jeremy Epstein, @jer979, Sprinklr VP of Marketing