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Tell us what you think…but only if it’s about how awesome we are.

Where do lost chapsticks go?

Certainly a way to get a conversation started...

If you’ve stumbled across this blog, chances are you’re interested in marketing and are probably up to date on the whole- as Tim Nudd’s article on Adweek so delicately put it- “Social Media Death Spiral” that ChapStick got itself into recently. And if you are here by chance- and were intrigued enough to stay- but know nothing of this Death Spiral, let me give you the Readers Digest Version of the story. ChapStick put up an ad featuring a woman bent over a coach, rear-end prominently displayed, searching for, what the reader is supposed to assume, her lost ChapStick behind the couch. A blogger was offended by this (shocker) and posted her thoughts about it on the ChapStick Facebook page. ChapStick deleted her comments and when others complained ChapStick deleted their comments too. People started to get mad that their comments were being deleted and more and more people became angry at ChapStick and so ChapStick continued to delete the comments, making no mention of the issue or issuing an apology anywhere. And it goes on from here…the more mean, nasty comments that were posted on Facebook, the faster ChapStick was deleting them which made people post MORE comments…do you see the problem here? And the thing is ChapStick’s tag line is, “Be heard at Facebook.com/ChapStick”- isn’t irony funny?

The saying “Put your money where your month is” is pretty appropriate when thinking about conversations between businesses and consumers. In ChapStick’s case, they told customers to talk to them and then not only ignored comments, but deleted them. That’s the equivalent of your friend walking away in the middle of a conversation with you. This is clearly not a conversation and not how to build a relationship with trust. ChapStick did many things wrong, beginning with the questionable ad, but dug themselves an even deeper hole when they tried to eliminate the negative feedback; they stopped the conversation. Consumers ultimately became frustrated and abandoned any trust and respect they had with the company. If ChapStick had come right out and apologized for the “offensive” ad, I guarantee a lot of people, even those who were angered by the ad, would have gained respect for ChapStick. Instead, people have lost it all. Company’s need respect in order to prosper. With respect comes a loyal fan base, support from consumers, free marketing (referrals), and, most importantly, money. ChapStick did not have a conversation with their consumers and the backlash has hurt their image amongst many people. They asked for the conversation, but when it came time to respond they hid.

One company I would like to praise is the Connecticut Light & Power Company (CL&P). After the massive Halloween snow storm that hit the Northeast, hundreds of thousands of residents in Connecticut and Western Massachusetts were left in the dark and some are still without power well over a week after the storm. Connecticut saw the brunt of the storm and has the most residents still without power. Their Facebook page is a poor example of a conversation; many CT residents are complaining on it and no one from the company is making any attempt to speak to them, but at least the comments are not being deleted. However, I would like to highlight their Twitter page as a prime example of a great conversation between a company and consumer. CL&P representatives are posting pictures, videos, health information, safety tips, updates, and even responding to the frustration. “@(name withheld) we know this is difficult…if you are looking for services or someone to talk to please call 2-1-1.” CL&P is tweeting multiple times every hour and providing phone numbers for people to call and report problems; they welcome the public’s conversation and they are responding, unlike ChapStick who said one thing and acted differently. CL&P are not perfect and they have acknowledged this, but their efforts to keep an open dialogue with the public are being recognized, salvaging what trust and respect is out there for them. “@(name withheld) pls thank the AEP SW crews that were working on Bloomfield!! Just got power thanks to them!” CL&P is a much lesser known company when compared to ChapStick and I imagine the advertising, PR, and marketing teams are nowhere near as big as ChapStick’s, but I think ChapStick can take a lesson from CL&P- as well as other companies too. Do not ignore the conversation going on with the consumer; even in moments of indiscretion and failure, the conversation will not cease and it’s how you chose to react to this conversation that will determine future trust and respect from consumers.

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