The "Gross" Factor: Social Media Monitoring in the Retail Food Sector
Monitoring social media is essential for any business, but because of its potential "Gross Factor" it’s especially important in the food industry.
Many will remember the seminal disgusting "prank" YouTube video posted four years ago by two Domino’s Pizza employees that garnered global headlines, resulted in felony charges against the pair, and damaged the pizza chain's brand for months.
Similar if not identical problems have re-surfaced in recent weeks for two other major food brands, Taco Bell and Wendy's. A recent posting on Reddit showed a Wendy’s employee eating ice cream directly from the dispenser. This came just weeks after a photo of a Taco Bell employee licking a stack of tacos went viral on Facebook.
Taco Bell issued the following statement: "Nothing is more important than the safety of our customers and team members, and we have strict food handling procedures and zero tolerance for any violations. When we learned of the situation we immediately contacted this restaurant's leadership and although we believe it is a prank and the food was not served to customers, we are conducting a full scale investigation and will be taking swift action against those involved." A spokesman for Wendy's declined to identify the worker and the location of the photograph but stated that the incident most likely took place in May with the company currently investigating the incident.
At CommCore we repeatedly remind our clients that social media is a double-edged sword, especially when many of their employees are young and deeply engaged in online sharing:
· Monitor, monitor, monitor. Early detection of a potentially harmful social media posting provides an opportunity for immediate engagement with customers before – or soon after – the posting goes viral.
· Don't issue bland corporate-speak responses to a damaging social media posting. When an embarrassing posting goes viral, it tends to do so because it’s seen as maliciously funny. Address the posting head-on in social media, engage the online community on its own terms, and try and blunt further proliferation.
· Highlight the consequences to both the brand and the employees of any social media postings involving the company, its products or services, or its employees.