United and the broken guitar, moms insulted by Motrin, snotty-nosed Domino’s pizza employees; they’ve been analyzed and analyzed. Each element picked apart and pontificated over. I too am guilty of that. Let’s face it, they make fur juicy fodder to citizens alike and those of us engaged in the social mediasphere. Now it’s about to get a lot harder for Joe-citizen to get anywhere with social media.
Time to take a deep breath, step back and look at it from a different perspective. The likelihood of many of them happening again, to the degree that they did, is minimal. Each has changed an industry; mostly for the better. But what happens after the first big crisis in each industry?
United wasn’t the first airline to suffer from a social media crises and it wasn’t the first time United suffered from social media either. JetBlue gets that honour on valentine’s day 2007. Taco Bell will likely wear the unadorned crown of first for restaurants in 2006 with the rat scare and Domino‘s second.
Most of the social media crises have happened with major brands. Not all, however; we’ve dealt with smaller businesses facing more localized crises. These big crises are likely to happen again, but one can speculate they’ll be in different industries. The airline industry groaned yet again with the United issue. Food services with Domino’s.
If citizens want to truly make a point with a negative experience via a major brand, they’ll need to become increasingly creative. Dave Carrol wrote a great tune and added a video behind it. Simply text blogging his experience likely wouldn’t have worked. We picked up on the Motrin issue more because it took a series of practitioners involved in Social Media to push out the message on how flustered moms were.
While it’s not impossible that another video of fast-food employees doing gross things to customer orders couldn’t go big, it’s not likely to happen to the degree it did with Domino’s.
There are still a lot of industries to be hit in a negative way, but as we did our research into the discussion volume around these crises, we found that each time around (with only United and the guitar incident as an exception) the volume of discussion decreased as did the viral factor and the Echo Ratio increased (the story stayed quite contained.)
Essentially, we’re saying that it’s going to get harder for the average Joe to use social media as an effective weapon for change or compensation when done wrong. Messages are 30% less viral the second time around in an industry and 65% less the third time around. The story will also have less of a long-tail effect; although it can stay alive forever in the digital world of Cyburbia.
While this can still be damaging to a company’s bottom-line, it’s less so than before; unless your industry hasn’t been hit. In that case, brace yourself if you’re the first to be targeted. Business will (and are) get savvier in dealing with them and citizens will have to work harder to get the message out.