What if you launched a Fan Page on Facebook for your brand, and only the "haters" came? What if your new product's Tweets on Twitter sang only a negative note? It is one of marketer's biggest fears when using social media.
Honda recently released photos of their new 2010 crossover vehicle, the Accord Crosstour on a Fan Page on Facebook, and the nightmare came true.
Four thousand people signed up as "fans" of the car on the day it was launched, and most immediately began posting negative comments about the car's design. And the Twitter response has been equally negative.
While social media marketing can reap huge word-of-mouth wins for brands, and keep marketer's in touch with their customers at a very intimate level, marketers must deal with negative bursts of commentary as aggressively as they deal with positive buzz.
Honda needs to turn this around, and fast.
The negative buzz which started on Facebook and Twitter is now spreading to articles on blogs and online media outlets.
Apparently, Honda has attempted several responses, with lackluster results.
One Honda employee began posting positive comments on the page without identifying himself as a company employee. Spotting a rat, Facebook users quickly caught on to his identity, and Honda purged his comments from the page.
Autoblog says, "His comments and other similar non-sanctioned corporate communique will one day wind up in business textbooks as examples of how social media marketing can go very, very wrong."
Honda also launched a more formal effort at "damage control." The company posted a note to fans on the page, attempting to respond to the criticisms, and defending the design. They also blamed the photographer.
U.S. News & World Report says that Honda wrote, "the two studio photos we posted didn't give you enough detail, nor were they the best to showcase the vehicle. There are more photos on the way. Maybe it's like a bad yearbook photo or something, and we think the new photos will clear things up."
The "blame the photographer" excuse is now being mocked once again in comments on the page.
You can close the doors, Honda, but you can not stop a social media train once it has left the station.
Overall, Honda's response is being seen as defensive, insensitive, and deceptive--not at all how you need to behave in the world of social media marketing.