‘Customer Service’ Facebook Prank Highlights Importance Of Digital Presence Management
Brands must be vigilant about keeping an eye on their online reputation — or risk ending up the butt of a joke.
It was a good prank, though probably not terribly funny to the restaurants involved: Earlier this week, as reported by tech culture blog Laughing Squid, two comedians set up a Facebook page entitled “Customer Service” and used it to troll angry customers who were complaining to corporate Facebook accounts like Arby’s, Whataburger, and others.
When an enraged patron posted to Arby’s that its [sic] “BLT looks NOTHING like on Tv or on your signage. This is fraud!!!” the parody Customer Service account responded with “The food in our commercials is like a Tinder profile picture. Everything looks great until you see it in person. Hope this explanation helped!”
The joke got more than a few laughs (and likes), but it also served to underscore an important lesson that businesses are quickly learning in the digital age: Online reputation management matters. A lot.
“This ongoing stunt demonstrates the challenges any brand faces in protecting their reputation,” says David Berkowitz, CMO at social media marketing agency MRY. In order to maintain a streamlined digital presence — giving customers the information they need and subsequently inspiring them to make purchases and visit stores — brands must have accurate listings, manage and respond to reviews, and deal with the aforementioned “trolls” who may opt to have a laugh at the expense of a brand’s reputation. But how should one respond?
“Most of the time, brands would be advised to either ignore attempts at satire or humor, or play along and show they’re in on the joke,” Berkowitz says. “[But] this “Customer Service” prank is different, as actors are posing as the brand, and any of these brands’ fans and customers could be understandably duped. With such exchanges public, many other people could be influenced, and it could wind up having a negative impact on a brand’s business. Marketers need to stay as vigilant as ever in terms of offense and defense. Marketers should be as responsive as possible to posts directed at them.”
In other words, it’s more important than ever that marketers keep a closely trained eye on their online presence, monitoring everything from their social pages to their proprietary website. And at the end of the day, as Berkowitz advises, “[they should probably just] remove posts that misinform others or immediately clarify the situation when the posts can’t be removed.”