All hell has broken loose on Myer’s Facebook page.
On wednesday, the CEO of the Aussie retailer announced that a proposed increase to the Medicare levy to help fund the national disability insurance scheme (NDIS) will hurt their sales (read: profits). Unsurprisingly, the company’s Facebook page received fuming responses.
Outraged Aussies unleashed their criticism across all of Myer’s online content.
A post about buying a Mother’s day gift?
A post about a Mother’s Day Morning Tea at Myer Melbourne?
So Myer posted this compassionate, heartfelt response….
Yes I was being sarcastic. At ntegrity, we couldn’t help but wonder “why they would post this?”
Their Facebook community had the same response:
If you didn’t like their first response, don’t worry. They have another.
That didn’t go down too well either.
You’ve gotta give them kudos for responding to complaints and responding quickly. But backlash has snowballed from complaints from people who were disappointed with the brand, to a full blown #boycottMYER campaign, urging consumers to stop shopping at Myer.
Myer responded, twice, and in a timely way. So what went wrong? Here’s our take.
They didn’t actually apologise.
Myer initially took the position of Mr. Brookes, their CEO. They said “…we would like any government initiative to be funded within the revenue stream it has, rather than through a new or additional take.”
They didn’t disagree with what Mr. Brookes said. They just tried to “clarify”. The second response didn’t retract their view of the NDIS – they wanted everyone to calm down. This confirms what everyone thought: Myer lacks compassion and sincerity. An that’s the exact reason for the initial outrage.
CEO is the boss, not the brand.
Ideally, if a CEO makes a mistake, ensure they are the one making the apology. This not only allows for sincerity, it also separates the brand from the person. If your CEO isn’t concerned about the repercussions or is incapable of a sincere response, perhaps you should get a new one.
However is the sort of word that immediately gets people’s back up. It’s not an awesome idea to thank people and then use the word “however”. It’s like saying “I think you’re great. However, I’m more concerned with profits than human rights”.
Blame it on the reader
Myer explained that the comment was “perhaps taken out of context”. They didn’t empathise with how people might be effected or offended, or why people were upset with the CEO making the comment.
Sounded like a robot
The audience complaints spoke to Myer personally, but the brands response sounded like a press release or statement. This is the epitome of not being “social” on social media.
So what would ntegrity do (WWnD)?
Don’t add fuel to the fire
Don’t post a statement saying sorry if you aren’t actually sorry. If you can’t defend something you said – that has aggravated thousands – just don’t say anything until you’ve figured it out.
If you want to keep your community and customers – you have to apologise when you’ve done or said, something wrong. And like your mum says, you have to actually mean it.
If you are sorry, say so like a human
Ensure all your communication is personal, authentic and honest. Speak as if you are talking to someone face to face rather than drafting a public relations statement. The greatest social media backlash is directed against inauthentic, impersonal approaches. The greatest wins look like this.
Test the response.
Use a focus group to test the response. Do it over the phone if you need to. Take their feedback on board. Make changes.
If you know your community cares – or is sensitive to – an issue, do something about it! Try to make things right. Reach out to the NDIS team, or respond to this Change.org petition. Show people you are invested in improving.
As social media managers, we have used these methods to mitigate risk. It doesn’t take days. Have a clear risk mitigation protocol, and you’ll be prepared to respond to the hard questions quicker. You might not have all the answers (What is our company’s official stance on the NDIS?) but you be prepared to escalate, get signoff, and respond.
A lesson for leaders
The initial problem was certainly not the fault of the social media team. No doubt it’s been a stressful time for them. This was social media backlash to something a CEO said to a small group of people. Leaders need to understand that there is no such thing as “private” any more, and that
Leaders also need to understand their voices have a ripple effect. I think Jane Speechly says it best:
For better or worse, your facebook page is the public face of your organisation. It’s not just a marketing channel to funnel deals and push your campaigns. This is why we think you shouldn’t outsource your social media. Companies need to build internal capacity, they should intimately know your organisation, understand sensitive information and have access to your leaders.
Unfortunately, sometimes it takes a spectacular social media fail like this one for companies to spot the gaps in their own social media capacity. In the past, events like this have served as ammunition for fear-driven management who see social media as ‘too risky.’ Those times are on the way out. With investment in social media increasing, companies must use these cases to prepare their processes and equip their staff to ensure their brand makes waves for the right reasons, not the wrong ones.