Black Friday has become one of the most dangerous days of the year in our consumption-crazed modern world. Type “Black Friday Mishaps” into Google and it quickly becomes clear that there are a multitude of security and safety risks associated with the event, and any incidents that happen on your retail property are going to affect your brand. Aside from implementing security strategies to combat risk of bodily harm to your customers, there are other steps you can take to ensure that your brand reputation doesn’t suffer in the lead-up, duration, and aftermath of these events. Black Friday done right can be wildly successful for your brand. Done wrong? Well, we’ll show you an example of Black Friday gone awry, and take a look at how to avoid making the same mistakes by being well prepared for the event and how to surprise and delight your customers during Black Friday.
When Black Fridays go Sideways
Example: Asda 2013
Black Friday has become a modern-day American tradition. Like many American pastimes, the madness has quickly manoeuvred itself into retail companies all over the world. In 2013, UK chain Asda decided to take their first stab at a Black Friday sale. After merrily Tweeting and promoting their event on Radio and other outlets, They failed to anticipate the unprecedented hoards of people who would be queued up
outside their stores for hours before opening hours.
When the doors finally opened, it quickly became clear that stores were understaffed, understocked, and unprepared for the event. The shelves were emptied by bargain-hungry customers at lightning speed. Many customers who had camped out for the sale were made irate that they weren’t able to get their hands on the goods advertised to them. Aside from the lack of security, (a woman in Belfast walked away with a broken arm) the stores didn’t schedule enough extra staff to deal with customer questions and complaints in-store. On top of all that, Asda failed miserably with their social media PR follow-up to the event.
While news of the mayhem hit the news and social media immediately, Asda went silent, and then entered the denial phase, stating that the event was a success.
Your social media strategy can make or break a public relations crisis. More on that HERE.
Building a Foundation for Your Brand Reputation
When your brand has a strong reputation leading up to an event, there is less risk of having your company image fall to pieces if a PR fumble does happen. A good reputation can act as a bit of a cushion to absorb the worst of the impact. Building brand reputation, however, is not an easy task, and many beloved brands have been in our hearts and minds since childhood. If you're a newer company though, there are ways to fast-track the process. A solid reputation foundation will help your brand weather the storm if any glitches or incidents occur on the big day.
If you subscribe to any email marketing content from retailers, you’re already familiar with the increased frequency and volume of flyers, coupons, and newsletters that land in your inbox around the holiday season. If you have a retail business, you are pouring everything you’ve got into ensuring it’s a success. The problem is, your competitors are doing the same. For customers, that means their inboxes are overflowing and the likelihood of them actually opening any promotional email plummets.
In order to combat this, it’s time to get personal. By getting to know your customers through social media monitoring, your messaging can be tailored much more specifically to each demographic. This could be done by offering a special, hyper-local deal to anyone who has posted on social media within a certain town or city. Another example is offering activity-specific deals to people who you know are interested in that activity (example: people who are talking about hockey on social media get offers on hockey sticks at your Black Friday sale). Specificity and personalization are great ways to build a deeper connection with your customers, which can go a long way to improving brand reputation and loyalty.
Another benefit of monitoring social media in preparation for Black Friday, is that your team can keep an eye on the kinds of deals your competitors are promoting, and using that information to offer something unique. Geofencing is a great way to learn about your customers as well as your competitors, giving you the insights you need to ensure your brand a top spot in the eyes and the hearts of consumers. Learn more about how smart marketers use geofencing in their campaigns here.
On the Big Day
Social tools like Echosec allow you to find out who is physically on the ground at your retail locations. Using a geofence, your team can engage with eager customers on social media while they’re waiting in the queue. If done right, engaging this way can delight the customer directly, as well as showing social media onlookers that you are committed to outstanding customer service. Additional geofences can be setup to monitor and engage with customers who are waiting outside your competitors stores as well. This is an opportunity to direct special offers to your competitor’s customers and show them why you’re the superior choice.
The thing about social media is that people have come to expect an instant response. If there are any complaints rolling in, be sure to reach out to unhappy customers quickly. It’s useful to have a tool that allows you to see what’s being said about you even when the posts don’t contain direct mentions or hashtags. Geofences and keyword searches allow you to catch many of the complaints that could otherwise be missed. Finding as much as you can in your social media net means that you can effectively control your response if a crisis does happen. Depending on the scope and seriousness of the problem, it may not be necessary to respond to every person individually, but you can blast out apologies and offers to anyone who was affected, no matter which social channels they’re on. Effectively monitoring the social media activity surrounding your brand allows you to amplify praise and combat reputation fires on Black Friday or any other day.
The Bottom Line
Black Friday done right is an excellent opportunity for your business. Done wrong, it can be a PR nightmare. Staying ahead of the social media conversation is vitally important in maintaining brand reputation. Real-time social monitoring can be used before, during, and even after the event to help ensure a successful holiday season and satisfied customers.
Find Out How Echosec Helps Fortune 500 Retailers on Black Friday