Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Analysis on 'Twitter storms'

The "digital" columnist at Advertising Age analyses the phenomena of "Twitter storms" such as the amazonfail debacle, saying in part:
By far the biggest issue most of the angry Twitterers had was that Amazon didn't respond until late Sunday and, when it did, the vague answer it offered to CNet -- the problem was a "glitch in the system" that was being fixed -- didn't satisfy the masses who had already spent the better part of Easter getting fired up. The next response from Amazon came Monday night, when it issued a statement calling the incident an "embarrassing and ham-fisted cataloging error."

Now, it's likely Amazon didn't really know what was going on -- at one point a hacker even tried to take credit for the issue -- but most social-media experts say that wasn't the problem. "A lot of people have this idea that you can only respond when you have every I dotted and T crossed and have figured out what's going on," said Jeff Rutherford, founder of Jeff Rutherford Media Relations. "It's perfectly fine if you say, 'We're aware there's an issue; we're not ignoring it, and we're working hard to get to the bottom of it.'" Amazon has always been tight-lipped from a public-relations standpoint and, in this case, it cost them.
I wonder how much it did cost them, or will cost them? Has anyone seen a dollar figure? Is it possible to ascribe a dollar figure to the loss of something intangible like reputation?

Two points: 1.) Amazon used to be known for fantastic customer service. I think they've lost hugely in that respect. 2.) In this economic climate it's difficult to determine how much business is lost from bad PR and how much can be blamed on slow spending. An NPR report this morning on plastic bottles quoted a bottled water industry spokesman as saying they blame any slowdown in sales on the economny, not on people seeking a less wasteful alternative to using all those plastic bottles.

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