Digital Content Matter, Ask United – Never before could people so easily share information on such a mass scale. Internet users are continuously on-line, looking and sharing information. The internet made one company in particular brutally aware of this: United Airlines. Passengers shared a video of UA crew forcefully removing a passenger from the plane.
This was some terribly negative content being shared about united. In such trying times, taking control off the message is vital. Turn the intense negative and viral content into a positive one, something often done by other companies when faced with backslash from the public. An example is a high-end tech company selling digital photo cameras. This enterprise received an immense amount of negative comments on one of their new cameras. Members of a forum for digital camera enthusiasts voiced their frustration. The company in question however, had its people following this forum and decided to take part in the debate. It listened to the complaints, and even went as far as allowing certain members to take part in the production process of a firmware update for the camera. The negative backslash got taken control off, and turned into a positive one earning them customer trust, but also quite a bit of free publicity.
Another example of a company expertly spinning around viral content is Tiki. White nationalists used their product while rallying against the removal of a confederate’s statue. Tiki did not wish to be associated by these slogans, and issued a twitter message taking distance from the nationalists in Charlottesville, USA. Now, no one in their right mind would blame Tiki for what these protesters chanted. There was no real need to issue such a statement, but they done so anyway. And, one simple message that did not costs a single cent gave Tiki more visibility than any expensive campaign could or would.
Back to United. The airline had to deal with internet users sharing massively negative content about them. They did not take control of the message however. On the contrary, the company turned the negative response on the debacle into an even worse PR catastrophe by blaming the passenger for being belligerent and disruptive. The company already had the public perception against them, blaming the victim would only make it worse. An apology a day later might have been the only available course of action, but it was too little, and too late. Another, perhaps better, way of dealing with this event would be if United got in touch with the victim and at the same time communicated a public apology, a program to prevent future situations such as these and a video explaining the strategy off overbooking (because nearly every airline overbooks).
All the previous examples are external digital content. It is content about your company, but without the company having any control over it. This can be negative reviews on amazon.com to YouTube video’s shared on Facebook about how your company treats a passenger.
Some companies are learning about the possibility to create digital content themselves – Internal digital content. What better way to control content, by simply producing it yourself. Boeing, Microsoft, Technics are all creating in one way or another content to inform the public about their activities. They interact, inform and include internet users, at very little cost.
There is one area in this new sector of Digital Content Management that gets very little attention: Policy. Regardless of the fact that law and policies have tremendous effect on people, there is little enthusiasm for them. That is not surprising considering the legal and almost machine-like language of institutional documents. Nevertheless, what if your company were to react on policy by 1) explaining the policy in a human and interactive language, 2) reacting on it in a positive way and 3) emphasizing your own companies’ policies in relation to these policies?
An example is Europe’s Energy Union, an ambitious plan to shoot the EU’s energy sector into the future. Imagine your company handling each policy and reacting to it. You would suddenly have a mass of users going to your website to be informed about energy policies, and in the meantim0, these users hear what you are doing and what your perspectives are. All for the costs of a domain (12.50 EUR/year), webspace (110 EUR/year), a website, and content. Get in touch with us as firstname.lastname@example.org, and we can help you.
Another quick example is how Microsoft tried to deal with the incredibly negative external image of Internet Explorer:
Of course, it doesn’t have to be all commercial. The Belgian police posted a picture of catfood when Belgium internet users posted an immense amount of cat-pictures when the Belgian police requested not to post pictures on anti-terrorist actions during the terrorist attack on Brussels. Or What about the difference between the Dutch Airline KLM, and the Belgian airlines Brussels Airlines during the World Cup?