March 7, 2018 By Zak Mehan
Amid the continued fall-out from the tragic shooting in Parkland, FL, is the impact of brands responding to the #BoycottNRA movement, which called on companies to break ties with the National Rifle Association. Many did.
UPS broke deals with the NRA and saw its rival FedEx, which did not, walloped across social media. Delta Airlines ended its discounts for NRA members, prompting a sharp response from lawmakers in Georgia, who threatened to end a jet-fuel tax break from a recent tax bill. Delta parried with a strong message from CEO Ed Bastian that the company’s “values are not for sale.”
But what does it all mean? Did it benefit brands or hurt them?
According to YouGov BrandIndex polls, not a lot. Initial polls showed that many companies saw brand perception stay flat after denouncing the NRA’s position on guns in schools, with two exceptions: Dick’s Sporting Goods and Walmart.
Curiously, Dick’s decision to increase age limits and remove certain products from its racks was met with skepticism. Many on social media noted that it committed to a similar action after the Sandy Hook shooting, only to renege on the commitment once the spotlight switched off. But perhaps others also noted that Dick’s and Walmart earn revenue from the sale of firearms, so had more to lose by changing policies around gun sales than an airline or package delivery service or dating app.
Regardless, our perspective is this: social and political issues have rarely, if ever, been this pervasive in the news cycle or social media conversations. Companies, likewise, have never been so vocal, or expected to be so vocal, about the issues that impact us all as they are now. Maybe it’s a sign that good corporate citizenship starts with not being afraid to share an opinion, even if not everybody likes it.
The old social media customer service adage used to be that customer expected a response on social media within an hour, and a response within 15 minutes could be pretty sure to put out an irate customer’s fire. But that was in the ancient era of 2014, a mystical time where humans managed most customer service channels on social media.
Then came the era of chatbot dominance, allowing companies to make immediate responses on Twitter or company websites and, through Facebook Messenger, proactive approaches to page visitors. And the evolution of AI and design technology drive this forward.
The CIO of Daimler, Udo Neumann, is working on taking digital assistance further, creating chatbots with a human appearance that can identify and respond to emotional cues from employees and customers. As well as acting as instantly surfacing knowledge from databases, the idea of the emotionally-intelligent assistant is to build company trust by understanding and responding to emotions.
At the moment, large companies like Daimler are pairing with smaller startups for proof-of-concept trials, but these emotionally intelligent bots could have a larger reputational impact. Consider their use at scale. These bots could respond to individual customer complaints instantaneously, putting out potential social media fires before they even start. One day, they might even be used to communicate with journalists, given that parameters for the information they can share could be set, not risking any leaks and missteps. Gulp.
I’m still waiting for the reboot of “Video Killed the Radio Star” with “Facebook Killed the Media Star”. Maybe I just need to campaign for a Buggles Reunion tour.
That song title would be pretty literal, as Facebook’s algorithm change resulted in the shuttering of the two digital publications this week, pet-ecommerce-turned-feel-good-news site LittleThings and conservative news and viral content site Rare.us.
Both sites saw traffic and viewership skyrocketing after effectively targeting growing Facebook populations – middle-aged women for LittleThings and outspoken conservatives for Rare – resulting in content playing spreading like wildfire across users’ feeds. But as Digiday put it, “live by the algorithm, die by the algorithm”. We’ll be watching to see how the larger publishers fare.
Facebook Relaunches 3D Posts And Improves Their Shareability Wersm
Twitter launches Bookmarks, a private way to save tweets TechCrunch
Snapchat’s redesign is baffling publishers Recode
Social Media Use in 2018 Pew Research
Silicon Valley is rediscovering the simple joys of agrarian life…and then ruining all of it.