It's a brand's worst nightmare. Your products are on the supermarket shelves, in people's homes - and there's a problem discovered with a batch. At worst, a potentially life-threatening one. You have to recall - and quickly.
As Patrick Kerley from Levick Strategic Communications put it in Mashable, preparedness is the key.
Anticipate your likely scenarios and the keywords and hashtags which will be used and choose which platform to monitor and which to spread your message. Have your guidelines and approval process worked out in advance. Rehearse situations to test failure points (eModeration has a handy simulation tool to help with that).
Make sure your recall message is in all your social spaces before the news gets out. Without the correct information, consumers will speculate and make possibly disastrous assumptions. Anticipate the questions which will come in with a good set of live FAQs, and make sure that all searches for information are directed back to the same place, so that information is accurate and simple to control.
A recall is not without its silver lining, if handled well. As Ellie Cachette from ConsumerBell says: "Sometimes having an excuse to actively converse with consumers isn't a bad thing." The important part is to have a Recall Plan in place with a strong social media element.
Cachette's tips to handle a product recall include:
- Set up a group or network immediately - use a hashtag or a Facebook app (now the Discussion tab is gone it looks like third party apps are your best option).
- Increase engagement. Use this opportunity to see in what spaces and by what methods your consumers are talking about your product. Learn where they got the news from - useful for future PR forays
- Keep talking - as with any crisis, keep the lines of communication open: never ignore or silent your critics
- Become a 'trusted brand' by reacting as fast as possible and giving people all the information they need and the recompense necessary. You can be forgiven for having made an honest mistake by doing all you can to put it right.
Here you can see what is being said about the Stouffer's Lasagna: as you can see, most of this is simply information being passed on, with little negative attention directed at the brand.
To see how an issue can best be handled proactively, there is the recent case of Pfizer, who in the February was forced to recall batches of the Lo-Ovral 28 contraceptive pills due to another kind of packaging error. This video tells the story of how (at least once Pfizer decided to go public with the recall) the company reached out to women across their social media spaces. All the more reason, of course, for Pharma to keep their social engagement with consumers active, so that they can effectively listen out for problems which may lead to recall.