Proving that everything is forever on the internet, the children’s packaged fruit company GoGo Squeez got a jolt of unwanted social media attention when a Facebook post from six months earlier breathed a new, viral life last week.
For reference, the company prides itself on its natural, no-preservative and pro-environment brand positioning. It sells processed, blended fruits in child-friendly squeezable pouches and has been available in the U.S. since 2008 and in Europe for a decade longer.
With very few confirmed details and many accusations, a parent’s Facebook post accused the company of selling a product that went bad roughly nine months before it’s expiration date. According to the post, the product led to the child’s hospitalization.
The company issued a statement explaining that it investigated its production facilities, the packages that were created during the time frame in question and the packages at the store where the product in question was purchased. According to the company, not another single faulty product was found.
Of course, that hasn’t stopped the social community from jumping on the bandwagon to condemn the company and issue similar complaints about their experiences with squeezable fruit.
With nearly 400,000 shares and 100,000 likes, the original post has gained international attention and caused a public relations nightmare for the company — all without any independent verification of these claims.
Without delving into the details or veracity of either side’s claims, the upshot for any attentive marketing professional is that it really doesn’t matter what the truth is. What matters is what people say online and how you react.
In this case, the company initially reacted by removing the parent’s post. The original post received almost no attention, but then the parent followed up with an angry post asking why the original one was deleted and it all blew up.
Social relations lesson #1 — don’t try to hide or cover something up. It will be caught and it only makes you look guilty.
Lesson #2 — Address the issue head-on with openness, honesty and a commitment to correct any failures that might have occurred. Follow up by reporting on your findings and the actions that will be taken to fix the situation.
In this case, the company responded properly to lesson #2. However, because it failed to follow lesson #1, its credibility was already lost.
No company should ever expect that it’s immune to social media flare-ups, especially when its customer base is hyper-vigilant parents, so being prepared to respond appropriately and without hesitation is the best way to handle a seemingly no-win situation while waiting for the social fire to die down.