How To NOT Enrage Your Fans: 4 Lessons From The Nikon Debacle

By on March 21, 2012

Nikon recently became an excellent lesson for social businesses that post daily updates on their Facebook page. In one fell swoop, they managed to enrage thousands, perhaps even hundreds of thousands of fans, from one single post. Here are the lessons to learn from Nikons horrid debacle.

The Nikon Debacle Explained

Nikon has demonstrated to the world, how potent a statement on Facebook can be. This stems mainly from the horrible, commercial insensitivity that they displayed in their post. It was a blatant sales tactic, and one that their fans wouldn’t stand for.

This is what the post said:

“A photographer is only as good as the equipment he uses, and a good lens is essential to taking good pictures! Do any of our facebook fans use any of the NIKKOR lenses? Which is your favorite and what types of situations do you use it for?”

All 4307 responses were harsh, along the lines of – “how dare Nikon say that a photographer’s talent is solely reliant on their equipment.” One little slip, and Nikon was looking at social ruin. Many fans even suggested that they were going to sell their Nikon gear, and move over to Canon!

Nikon quickly apologised, which came across as a feeble attempt to recall the arrogance of making that claim in the first place.

Lesson #1: Be Careful Who Writes Your Updates

If an employee, professional writer or company, creates and updates posts for you – make sure that you check these comments before they’re posted! Any sign of arrogance, talking down to your fans, or making ridiculous claims can really hurt your business, and your sales.

Clearly one of the worst things you can do to your fans, is treat them like they’re stupid. Fans aren’t stupid, and they will let you know that!

Lesson #2: Bad News Travels Fast

Nikon has over 1.2 million fans on their Facebook page. For a really good update that engages their audience, they’ll get between 100 and 500 comments. No big deal at all. The bad news hit the page, and suddenly there were over 4000 comments, and dozens of social sites spreading the news about the Nikon blunder. Don’t forget, that if your business becomes a lesson for others, news will spread fast.

Bad news travels faster than good news, and damage control needs to be handled on Facebook and on every consecutive site thereafter.

Lesson #3: The Search Engines are Watching

When a post on Facebook goes viral, or gets thousands of ‘likes’ and comments, the search engines just love to index it. Unfortunately for Nikon, now when people type in ‘Nikon Facebook’ – there’s a never ending list of bad press for them, including articles, blogs and discussion on their update debacle. Plus the actual update displays underneath their Facebook URL. Not good.

If you are suddenly thrown into a hailstorm of bad press on Facebook, your only chance is to create positive posts that try to displace the negative ones. Get articles created with high impact SEO that will displace the negative articles and content as well. Otherwise your reputation is on the rocks.

Lesson #4: Apologise With Sincerity

While Nikons apology was fairly sincere, the update itself caused people to look at it with even more disdain. They state that is ‘wasn’t their aim’ to insult any of their fans – but the update is clearly insulting. They probably would have had better luck admitting their mistake, and adding in a human dimension to the apology.

When a human apologises, its easier to see how the error could have happened. Nikon on the other hand, stayed aloof and faceless. To many this apology was hollow and meaningless. Don’t get caught making the same mistake!

Though this update caused ripples in their fanbase, Nikon has recovered, proving once again – that social media really is all about fast, instant news. Manage your fans carefully!

What do you think of the Nikon post? How should the apology have been written?

About John Souza

John Souza is founder and chief strategist of SMMU and Social Media Impact, and is a bestselling business author. He won the 2011 Tech Marketing Awards ‘Social Media Marketer of the Year’ and most recently the About.com Reader’s Choice Award for Best Online Education Site. John has appeared on The Michael Gerber Show, and his business has been honored at the Mashable Awards, Forbes Business Awards and The Stevie Awards.
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