Are you using social media to help with your product recall planning?

Here at Issues & Crisis Management central we’ve got a bit of a focus on product recalls at the minute, but so far haven’t looked at the adoption of social media as a communication tool that’s useful for this kind of challenge.

Fortunately, while we’ve been napping the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has been on the job, according to this story on Networkworld.com.

As the ACCC sees it, social media is now trumping the daily newspaper advertisement as the single-most effective communication tool for advising consumers of a product recall, due largely to the expansion of broadband internet access across populations.

This is probably more true for countries with a fairly well-established broadband infrastructure, although the combination of growing mobile networks and increasing uptake of mobile web browsing point to a similar status quo emerging in markets without the cable infrastructure.

For those readers looking for a few tips, there’s a very informative, if long, video right here at SmartBlog that you can look at. Alternatively, try on the five pointers below for a quick 101:

  1. Use social media as an extension of your other product recall communication efforts. Avoid the trap of thinking you need a different message for your internet audience – at the end of the internet is the same consumer who used to read the newspaper. Usually.
  2. Be thoughtful about the detail you provide. There are usually regulatory requirements for product recall information – make sure you meet the relevant local regulations. But try to enhance the information by being as specific as possible – the more information you can provide, the fewer actual products you’ll have to get back, and the clearer the message to consumers will be.
  3. Use visuals. In the internet age none of us has the attention span for a great slab of information. If this blog post wasn’t so important you’d have already stopped reading.
  4. Support your consumer care phone line with an online option. If you’re short on staff, a web-based FAQ may be the best you can come up with – it’s not ideal, but it’s better than nothing. Try to dedicate some resources to managing electronic enquiries though; it’s the way of the future so you may as well start getting used to it now. And remember that the internet works 24/7…
  5. Don’t get into a discussion about the recall online. If an individual consumer has individual concerns, try to give them a more personal hearing – phone’s usually your best option. Every consumer’s concerns are valid, but during a recall your priority has to be the well-being of a bigger population, and that usually means shuffling individual complaints into a linked, but ultimately different system. If appropriate, add similar questions to your FAQ once you’ve satisfactorily resolved the consumer’s concerns. Just make sure you don’t cut them off.
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