Not Engaging In Social? Fine. But Own Your Brand, Set Expectation

There was recently an interesting conversation that happened on Twitter between a comedian and (what turned out to be) an impostor pretending to be a major brand (Pace Salsa). You can read the whole story here.

The short of it is the impostor manning the fake Pace Salsa Twitter account went about favoriting a bunch of statuses not very complementary of Pace.

Campbell Soup Co, the owner of Pace responded (eventually) to let us know it was not real. At least, after a bunch of speculation by blogs and users about what was going on. This was the correct response. And whether you want to say they were “late” or purposefully enjoying some free PR we can’t know.

Although the whole thing was fairly benign and not damaging to their brand in my opinion, it could easily have been worse.

But this never had to happen at all for Pace (or your brand). It is understandable that Campbell Soup Co has decided Pace as a brand does not have resources to participate in every social channel (such as Twitter) at this time. We can argue that’s a silly move and of course they should nurture their fans there, but that’s their decision / mistake to make. However, this could have been a non-starter. Here’s the official Pace Twitter Account:

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Of course, we don’t know it’s official because Pace doesn’t write this in their bio. Heck, they don’t even bother linking back to the PaceFoods.com homepage. They just respond to a bunch of people (and spam their own followers by adding a . before the response) asking people “where is your salsa made?”

It’s clear why an internet troll had such an easy time pretending to be this brand: the brand didn’t look like they were involved in social at all, so it was easy to pretend to be them. So easy, a spammer (even with an underscore in their name) could pretend to be the brand. And why not, they looked more official than the above.

Naturally I was curious about Pace’s other digital assets at this point so I went over to their website and saw (in December!) they sadly still have their summer promotion up:

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I was sad to see this as growing up I have fond memories of enjoying Pace Salsa with Tacos and chips. At the least I want to see that the people behind the brand care about delighting their users. But even if they do care, the messages they send with their above marketing say they don’t. I Tweeted this to Campbell Soup Co, and they kindly responded and let me know they’ll get to work on this which is great. At least the larger company is listening and doing a good job here.

The point of today’s post is one I’m surprised still needs to be made: set expectations with your channels and look official, even if you aren’t planning on engaging right now. Of course, you should participate, but if for whatever reason you can’t at the very least set some expectation (for example: this is the official Twitter account for Pace, we’re not updating right now but visit our site for the latest) and protect your brand in that channel.

And with your own site and static content: look, I get it if you can’t update all the time. But if you’re going to do that, be evergreen so you don’t create an experience that leaves users scratching their heads.

What’s sad is Pace is definitely not alone here. And while we expected these types of mistakes in 2004, there aren’t really excuses anymore. We need to push our favorite brands to do better so they continue to exist.

Hat tip Lisa Grimm for sharing this story with us.