China·China-Kommunikation·Social Media

Social Media – a double-edged sword

Social Media Case Study from China

Social media allows brands get to know their customers better than ever before. Not only does it offer a quick and easy channel through which brands communicate with their consumers directly, but it also helps brands to adjust their business strategy to the personal preferences of their customers: Like or dislike, what can be better.

However, this double edged sword might also cut those who hold it wrong or who unluckily run into it from the back. Take a look at Siemens, the Chinese blogger Luo has made this German giant life in hell at the moment. And then China Eastern and Coca Cola are also trapped there. Here are more details:

Coca Cola’s Minute Maid:

On 30 November, 2011, chinanews.com reported at 14:42 local time that Minute Maid (fresh strawberry flavor) from Coca Cola is suspected to have caused the death of a 10-year-old boy and his mother unconscious in Changchun, China. Following clinical diagnosis organophosphate poisoning is suspected to be the cause. Investigations from the local Public Security Department found that the remaining drink contains highly toxic pesticides. This news was then tweeted by Global Entrepreneur (Magazine) on Sina Weibo, China’s No. 1 microblog. Two hours later, Minute Maid poisoning case stayed in the trend topic at Weibo. 52073 tweets about the Minute Maid case were posted at Weibo. And the public’s negative comments are still snowballing.

China Eastern’s Cockroach:

The account “笑笑t_t“ on Weibo is verified as: Chief steward of China Eastern Airlines. On 25th November, 2011, 笑笑t_t tweeted: My colleague just found a cockroach, he didn’t throw it away. He said, if someone doesn’t behave, he will L… (This is widely understood as a hint that this colleague will put it into the food of the passenger).

This tweet didn’t mention the company and which plane. But based on the account information, the public still held China Eastern responsible and pointed out that planes of China Eastern are unhygienic and that the services on board are not professional and reliable. Even though the tweet was deleted later on, many netizens still said they won’t fly with China Eastern anymore.

ILINOI CEO’s attitude

On 15th November 2011, a Weibo user @Queen琛complained about the services of ILINOI, a popular home products company in China (similar to IKEA), and @ed it to the ILINIO’s official Weibo and ILINOI’s boss. ILINOI Weibo hasn’t replied yet, but the boss already reacted strongly and rudely on Weibo to this complaint. Even though she later explained that she mistakenly thought that this complaint was from one of their competitors and apologized for her reaction. However the harm is done. Netizens regarded the apology as insincere and indicating “bad personality of the boss, bad quality of the products”. Some even said they won’t buy products from ILINOI anymore and they will tell their friends about it, too.

The market is tough. Social media can help you, but it can also hurt you. In the end, we should use it, and use it well

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