As the headline sponsor of the The Marketing Academy 2013 Scholarship Programme, I find it remarkable that British Gas has so royally failed on another social media platform.
Last week gave us the hilarious #AskBG Twitter fiasco, giving tweeters the perfect opportunity to do what Britain does best, 140-characters of sarcastic outrage. Ranging from the outright offensive to genuine worry, @BritishGas suddenly found themselves inundated with tweets.
— Scott Wall (@scottjwall) October 17, 2013
#ASkBG which is the best way to heat you home with dead body’s or coal
— Nicholas Rangeley (@bigbull82) October 17, 2013
— TechnicallyRon (@TechnicallyRon) October 17, 2013
Destined to fail from the start, there was no doubt in marketeers minds the Q&A would be a PR disaster. If the ‘love to hate’ nature of Twitter wasn’t enough, British Gas decided to host the discussion on the same day they announced a 9.2% price increase. Dodging the abusive and the absurd, Bert Pijls (British Gas Customer Service Director) went on to talk about investments and wholesale costs. Well, he may as well have whispered for help from the top of Mount Everest.
And now? A cheery slap-in-the-face in the form of a Sponsored Ad on Facebook. To all intents and purposes British Gas have attempted to sooth the wounds of their customers by reinforcing the customer care message. Unfortunately ‘looking after our world’ has come at a 9.2% price increase, something that cannot be glossed over by a ‘committed to keeping Britain warmer’ message.
Cue over 25,000 negative comments from agitated Facebook users…and ‘social media fail’ part two.
Surely the Twitter Q&A was enough to convince the marketing team to tread carefully, with any kind of social activity at risk from consumer backlash. And on the front of it, this Sponsored Ad appears to be another spectacular example of ‘social gone wrong’…although part of me hopes this catastrophe is part of a wider plan.
Are British Gas building up to the mother of all crisis management campaigns?
Is there a warm, glowing light in the distance?