“Social” is not a department, it is an attitude

There are a lot of legends in corporate world. “Companies must be customer centric” is one of them. I will write about it in the next post. “We are social” is another one and it is a typical claim by any given company.

Companies often mix up “to have social network pages” with “being social”. And companies forget what “being social” means. A recent example in Italy can explain better than an essay.

McDonald’s Italy recently launched a commercial where a family (father, mother and son) are ordering in a restaurant. THe waiter asks to the kid “And you? What kind of pizza do you want?”. Kid: “A Happy meal”. The pay-off: “Your son has no doubt”

Yikes! The associations of Neapolitan pizza makers screamed against McDonald’s. Furthermore: a plenty of social counter offensives were launched immediately, driven by social network creativity: a lot of videos joking about “Kids prefer pizza than Happy Meal” (you can find one at the end of this post)

McDonald’s answered with following public statement:.

We would like to say to Neapolitan pizza makers that no one assaulted them. We, as good Italians, love pizza, too.  With our commercial, we showed a typical situation for whom has a son. Parents want to go out for a dinner and kids push for McDonald’s. Who didn’t experience such situation at leat once? And don’t forget that a happy meal is complete meal at 4 Euro, only. How much is it the bill in  a pizzeria?

Okay. When I read such statement I thought “Hope the McDonald’s Communication Director was fired”. After, remembering I am normally against firing people, I decided for a new positioning: “Hope the McDonald’s Communication Director was forced to follow a basic lesson about “being social for Companies’ Management”.

I do not know – and I do not want to know – which kind of “creative” process drove to McDonald’s commercial. If you concentrate on it, you won’t get the point.

Having a presence on social networks or “being social” is a conversational matter. If you do not understand such elementary statement you will crash. conversations have their rules:

  1. You are talking each other (companies with customers, companies with consumers, companies with stakeholders and… what is a stakeholder is probably a free decision by the same stakeholder): you must expect a response to your statements
  2. If someone show your mistakes…  assume, please, that your interlocutor has some reasons to deal with them. Being bitter is the worst manner to react to criticism
  3. Moods matter…. Sometimes you can react to aggressiveness with irony, but never react with aggressiveness to irony.
  4. Conversation is one of the most important asset you must save in social network communication… if someone moves his/her complaints to you… he/she is declaring his/her will to communicate. Save the conversation, then.

McDonald’s Italy top management should have proposed an ironic commercial “Pizza is better than Happy Meal”. Or, in example, should have announced a contest to choose the best counter-commercial video.

McDonald’s would have earned the sympathy. Proving the statement: “Mistakes happen to people who do. But your mistake management is more important than avoid mistakes”.

In the following video, people order a pizza and the guy bring them a Happy Meal (hidden camera). Sorry if the dialogues are not translated in English. People speak in Neapolitan: subtitles must be in Italian… :o) But faces and attitudes are very clear.

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