Avoiding social media doesn’t stop people talking about you

social media conversations

Why do you need to engage with your customers online? Surprisingly, a recent survey of European companies shows that a large number still choose to avoid using social media with only 30% of EU companies using social media.

North-South Divide

Northern Europe, often seen as on the forefront of the digital space, leads the list comfortably with medium to large companies using at least one form of social media. The most connected country is Iceland with 60% but all the top ten countries come in at over 40%.

Disconnected Powerhouses

Surprisingly large, important economies do not fare as well. Germany with its 33% is in the bottom half of the list but France (19%), Italy (25%) and Poland (19%) all fall far short of equally developed economies.

So why are companies in these countries ignoring social media?
The answer isn’t clear as social media use among customers is not considerably lower in these countries. While these companies probably do not see any direct incentive to creating a more immediate channel to their customers, keeping your customers at arms length can have unforeseen and disastrous consequences.

A hot dollop of controversy

If you want to see how failing to be on top of your company’s presence online can impact your company negatively, you have to check out twitter controversy between comedian Kyle Kinane and Campbell subsidiary Pace Picante. In what turned out to be a prank orchestrated by fellow comedian Randy Liedtke, the twitter of Pace Picante began favoriting Kinane’s negative comments about the company. The company twitter later claimed that this was due to ‘technical issues’ and began a private message conversation with Kinane. Kinane posted these to twitter and what followed included attempts at salsa based bribes, conflicts between PR people within Pace and a disgruntled employee hijacking the company twitter.

This chain of intrigues finally resulted in the employee apparently being fired, sparking a social media movement to ’#BringBackMiles’, and Pace taking down their twitter account. Legions of twitterers watched the drama unfold before Randy Liedtke, of iPhone cookie fame, stepped forward as the person behind the twitter account. Liedtke had been running the account for four months before pulling the prank.

Pace Picante had no Twitter account and as the controversy blew up on the weekend it wasn’t until the following Monday that Campbell’s Twitter account could react to disavow Pace Picante’s tweets.

This story, while fairly harmless and funny, is a perfect example of the need to be aware of what is being said about your company online. Check out the full story here or listen to Randy Liedtke detail the prank in full on the You Made it Weird podcast.


  1. […] Social media is great. It’s a fast, immediate way to interact with your customers. Sometimes though it can be a little too immediate. Social media managers are only human, after all. Every now and again one of them seems to forget that they are A) speaking for their brand and B) speaking to the whole world. Just think of the social media meltdowns of companies like Amy’s Bakery or even a hoax like Pace Picante. […]

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