Be aware of what you tell the world // the boomerang effect #SNHUMK555

February 23, 2013

Social Media Marketing

How many people have I already heard saying (of course my mom was one of them but isn’t it a mom’s job to worry and protect their beloved from any harm?): Be careful with social media, do not provide too much private information, pay attention to the people you want to be connected with etc. I agree it is of importance to think about what and how much information one wants to spread throughout the Internet. As a private person I believe one has to be aware that everyone can find anything and one never knows what people do with other people’s information…but on the other hand, for instance, I am amazed with my blog about the people who have decided to receive my posts whenever published – thank you dear followers for taking note of mykatjesworld stories. I am really glad that you enjoy it. I wish a career as professional blogger or social media manager would become true one day! –

However, as a business one has to think twice before taking the social media path. While most businesses enjoy great experience with their social media presence for some – if not managed properly – social media activity can harm a businesses reputation. In Spiegel Online, a German magazine, I recently found an article about social media manager. As studies have shown (Pew) the US and also UK are much more advanced in utilizing social media as a marketing channel but the Germans still “try to figure out whether they can trust” this “new” movement. In the US it is more the other way around: one is kind of an outsider / old-fashioned if one doesn’t take the social media route.

But back to the German article: Btw, I usually don’t like people taking everything the negative way but I must say for a social media manager job description I found some true comments. “Shitstorm” manager they call it. The term has become popular in the German-speaking world since 2010 to describe a chorus of outrage on the Internet, especially by posting and writing in social media.

Well, it is known that social media networks like Facebook or Twitter provide a great platform for customer feedback, positively but also negatively. Zappos and L.L.Bean are great examples of businesses taking care of social media, they have a 100% response time within 24hrs. Isn’t it great? Also their ratio of positive vs. negative feedback shows how well the companies interact with their customers. Of course they have well-thought trough communication guidelines, worst-case scenario policies in place to avoid negative motions.

The Germans are more biased towards social media. It has gotten much better and businesses these days see the advantages of having a social media presence but due to negative examples the social media manager job is not promoted with “flowers”.

Maybe the example of Henkel’s dishwashing detergent Pril is one to be mentioned:

Pril selection - rag guy

The company asked the Internet community for a new design, which should have been to the taste of the customers. Some participants took the word for it and designed, among other things, the grilled chicken version with the label “Tastes good for chicken”. In polls the whimsical creation were far forward but the company took other designs which they thought were more in line with the company’s brand fit . The participants felt “taken for a ride” and posted their anger on the company’s social media tools. This shows that at that time Henkel did not have a worst-case scenario action plan is place. Otherwise they could have intervened much earlier. In order not to lose face and trust in customers 111 bottles with the “Rage Guy” were produced and raffled on Facebook.

Pril rag guy vs. chicken

It is obvious that the social media channel also provides risks and challenges to a company and its brand image. As long as a company has a proper set up, that includes dedicated and well trained social media teams together with a general communication guideline and long-term marketing strategy in place the social media path is beneficial for the company itself but also for the customers getting more emotionally connected to the products they buy.


Bakir, D. (February 8, 2013). Die Shirtstorm-Manager. Spiegel Online. Retrieved from

Happy Customer (May 30,2012). Most Customer Service Tweets Go Unanswered Within 24 Hours. Retrieved from

Keller, A.K. (September 5, 2012). Wie Marketingstrategien im Shitstorm enden und was zu tun ist. Absatzwirtschaft. Retrieved from;77939;0

Maloney, A. (September 17, 2012). When Social Media Turns into Risky Business. Retrieved from

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4 Comments on “Be aware of what you tell the world // the boomerang effect #SNHUMK555”

  1. junegal Says:

    Thanks for the interesting blogg. I am in the Global Marketing social media program. This brings up Interesting questions for me. How do multinational companies based in the U.S. manage social media in other countries?
    Also, a great example of how the detergent company angered it consumers in the contest. Not a good thing to do!!! I did not know Germany was so behind the times with social media. But better to be cautious and safe first.


    • mykatjesworld Says:

      Since I live here and also this course has proven that the U.S. is the ultimate place to be when one wants to learn about customer service / sales / marketing and social media engagement. A company based in the U.S. is equipped with every tool and knowledge needed to run social media activities in other countries. Of course one has to understand cultural differences and has to adopt to local needs but overall people know how to do it (and also what can go wrong).

  2. smlitmustest Says:


    When you mentioned how social media is treated in Germany, one thought that came to mind is how large multinational companies have to manage social media risk across multiple geographic regions. For example how social media is dealt with in say Germany, might be different than how its handled in the UK, US, etc… I’d be curious if these companies create their social media teams with the geographic differences in mind or not.

    Thanks Tim


    • mykatjesworld Says:

      Tim, that’s a good question. For instance Lufthansa, German airline, has different Twitter account – regional accounts. While Lufthansa USA is very active Lufthansa Germany is not even close to the level of engagement its subsidiary fosters. I would imagine that multinational companies have a general communication guideline with rules according to CI in place which enables them to act differently in the various regions.

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