Ryan Jones Blog – dotCULT.com Ryan Jones Blogs About Internet Culture, Marketing, SEO, & Social Media

April 16, 2009

Social Media Lessons From The Dominos Incident

Filed under: Main — Ryan Jones @ 11:06 pm

By now I’m sure everybody is familiar with the “disgusting Dominos video” featuring 2 moronic Dominos employees putting cheese up their nose and onto a sandwich. If you haven’t, you can see it here:

The video quickly spread all over the internet and received more than a million views in its first 24 hours online. Since then, Dominos has done a pretty awesome job of cleaning up the mess. They managed to do all of the right things, but there are a few things they did that were too late.

Shortly after firing the employees and pressing charges against them, Dominos president issued the following response:

The crucial lesson here is that although it seems like he’s reading a script, Dominos issued their response using the same medium that the original video aired on: YouTube. Instead of simply putting out a corporate press release and filing it away in an obscure portion of their website, Dominos joined the conversation already in progress. That’s how you have to deal with social media.

Shortly after the incident, Dominos set up a twitter account and started answering questions on it. I can say first hand that they answered a LOT of questions and responded to a LOT of people. When I tweeted at them, they twatted right back within 5 minutes with a great response.

The question I have to ask though, is where was their Twitter presence prior to this incident? If your company isn’t on Twitter now, let this serve as a wake up call that you should be. Had Dominos been there in the first place they could have started the PR machine in motion before this meme even got popular. It will also be interesting to see if they continue to use this new Twitter account to actively monitor and engage the community. I hope they do.

The lack of a twitter account also brings up other issues. If you do a search for Dominos you’ll notice that most of the results on Google are all about this recent video incident. From a reputation management point of view, that’s bad. Had they had a Twitter, Facebook, Myspace, and other social networking presence, those sites would be showing up in search results instead of all the bad PR about these employees. It’s a great side effect of having active social networking profiles.

If the Dominos incident can teach us anything, it’s the importance of establishing an early and dominant position on the social networks. Brands simply have to involve themselves in the active discussions concerning them. Not only that, but they can’t just use these accounts to push corporate marketing messages. Customers want people with a voice; people like Matt Cutts of Google or Scott Monty of Ford or Robert Scoble of Rackspace or Jason Calacanis of whatever the hell he’s working on now. Having a social networking presence doesn’t do any good unless it has a personal style to it as well.

Overall, I think Dominos did a great job at handling this incident – and the failure of their stock price to fall today shows that investors think so too. It may be a while before people get over the mental image and order again (at least not a sandwich,) but because of their quick and effective communication I don’t think they’re going to suffer long term. Hopefully your company can learn from this in case you ever have to deal with this type of situation.

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