Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Another one bites the dust - Bloc Weekend 2012

Since my last post, I have been told about another total communications disaster ... but this time it wasn’t anything to do with G4S. In fact it was the electronic festival “Bloc Weekend” (July 2012) who had to close their festival down during the event amid fears of overcrowding. The event organisers brought in the police to aid them to ‘eject’ thousands of festival goers and faced a vicious backlash across all social media sites.

However, whilst the company was frantically trying to deal with the chaos unfolding they forgot to communicate with their customers. Specifically, when they took the decision to eject people from the venue, they forgot that they had authorised a number of “pre-set” automatic tweets to be sent from their twitter account, @BLOCWKND. Whilst festival goers were slamming the festival’s ineptitude and complaining profusely about the manner in which they had been thrown out of the festival, @BLOCWKND was telling them that the next artist was coming up and posting “here’s one I took earlier” photos.

Unfortunately, the use of programmes that send out pre-set automatic updates is used all too frequently by companies and their self-titled “social media experts”.  Now, I don’t think there is anything inherently wrong with using automatic update programmes, such as Hootsuite, Tweetdeck or Tweetadder, but ... and this is a massive BUT, you have to understand that social media networks are all about being socially interactive and reactive. An automated system will never be able to do this for you; it all requires a human element. By making the mistake of not managing this process, @BLOCWKND found themselves further angering their customers as they continued to tweet inaccurately. What is more, when they did realise what had happened they went silent for some time.

Finally they sent out a status saying:

“By now everyone will have heard that Bloc 2012 was closed due to crowd safety concerns. We are all absolutely devastated that this happened, but the safety of everyone on site was paramount. Given the situation on the ground, we feel that it was the right decision to end the show early. Bloc will not open on Saturday 7th July so please don’t come to the site. Stand by for full information on refunds.”

Now I may be being silly but for the life of me I cannot find an apology in that status. I can’t even find the classic “we are sorry for any inconvenience caused”. Interestingly, Base Logic Promotions Ltd (the company name behind Bloc Weekend) quickly went into voluntary administration following the fiasco meaning that attendees of the festival will struggle to retrieve any refunds. I am not implying in any way that a better communication strategy would have saved the company from administration or from their overcrowding issues, however, I think they owed it to their disappointed customers.

My real point in this blog is that we have to be careful with our social media tools. It is all very well finding tools that help us, as companies or even individuals, to make the most out of social networking. However, we must not forget that these processes have to be managed properly if we choose to use them. Our customers, friends, circles and followers demand that we interact with them freely, openly and honestly, this was an unfortunate example of the exact opposite.

This says it all ...

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