Published On: Sun, Oct 6th, 2013

4 Lessons for Dealing With Product Recalls on Social Media – Chobani

While product recalls are unpredictable that does not mean that companies should be wait for the day that something happens to start developing a crisis management plan that includes to how to handle backlash on social media. This year there have been a couple high profile product recalls with the most recent being the Greek yogurt recall of select Chobani products.

There are four lessons that any brand can learn from what Chobani has been through in recent weeks and continues to experience now.

  1. Don’t hide your problems
    Whenever a company does something wrong consumers appreciate brands that strive to remain transparent and show humility, even when exactly what went amiss has not been determined. In Chobani’s case when consumers began writing them on social media with concerns about the lapse in quality regarding their products it seemed that they initially ignored or, reportedly, removed concerned comments from their page. Removing potentially legitimate comments from consumers can do more harm than simply replying to them with a simple: “we take the quality of our products very seriously and are actively looking into this. Would you mind provide us with more detailed information so that we can get to the bottom of this here: [insert contact form link],” or something else along those lines.

  1. Act quickly and be available
    Time is of the essence especially when it comes to handling a problem that could potentially become a crisis much more quickly than you think. People like to heed the advice of others, even strangers, especially on social media. The more that a brand appears to be on top of any concerns raised about their product the better. Customers just want to know that their concerns have been heard and that the company is doing its best to make things right as quickly as possible.

  1. Have a crisis communication plan ready
    Every company should have a crisis communication plan that includes how to respond to an influx of social media concerns. How a brand handles itself on social media when consumer concerns come pouring in will truly say a lot about a company’s character, so it’s best to strive to be proactive and less reactive while in crisis mode.  If staying on top of a crisis means hiring outside help than it’s best to take the necessary steps to get the help in as soon as possible.  Perhaps a skilled crisis communication consultant or a couple dozen temporary customer service professionals are necessary to handle the unusual amount of customer inquires.

  1. Keep the public informed
    Perhaps a member, or various members from the leadership team, could make a statement whether it’s a pre-recorded video apology or a brief written statement.  Any statement released should carefully deliver an apology, take responsibility for what happened, mention any action that should be taken and offer a direct channel for getting in touch with the company with additional concerns. Chobani’s CEO and founder did a good job making a concise and seemingly sincere statement about the company’s recall on Facebook. This move was extremely important for Chobani because of its history of consistent engagement with consumers on various social media channels.

Brands both small and large like Ikea, Purina, Pillsbury have experienced product recalls, so it’s better to be prepared for the unexpected than be unprepared. Crisis communication plans should be treated with the same level of importance that companies place on being insured, because the way that a company responses in a time of crisis can make or break its future.

Tiana Tucker is an inbound marketer for an online nursing program, Nursing@Simmons, from the Simmons School of Nursing and Health Care Sciences.  Tiana is a native of Washington, DC and enjoys feeding her healthy obsessions with design, digital media and travel.  

About the Author

- Marketing Manager with a passion for inbound at HubSpot, Founder of Growth Hack Talks, Blogger at and Chief Quaffer at .

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