Durex Didn’t Practice Safe Facebook

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A social media crisis management lesson

Social media polls and contests are great ways to both interact with your existing fans and gain new ones, but a recent Durex campaign gone-wrong demonstrated why you need to set firm boundaries before you start.

Here’s the story, from an ABC News article by Alan Farnham:

Durex recently asked its Facebook followers to pick which city they thought should get Durex SOS Condoms, which, according to the company’s website, are provided on a rush basis to customers via a smartphone app.

According to Durex’s website, London (with 594 votes) did not win. Nor did Paris (688), New York (363), or Kuala Lumpur (1,420). Tuscaloosa wasn’t even in the running. Pranksters, according to Bloomberg, swung the vote to Batman (1,731), capital city of a conservative Muslim province in Turkey, where condoms are unwelcome.

The mistake that led to Durex’s need for crisis management? No boundaries! Instead of listing an assortment of major cities around the globe, Durex allowed voters to choose any city they wished, leaving the door wide open for online pranksters (we’re looking at you, Reddit and 4chan) to coordinate Batman’s victory.

Durex didn’t even try to salvage this mess, instead scrapping the SOS campaign altogether and telling Bloomberg reporters that its social media efforts, “will move on to a new sphere.”

Any time people can take part in something anonymously, there are bound to be at least a few involved purely to stir up trouble. Before launching a public participation project, think to yourself, would a troll see opportunity here? If the answer is yes, then you have more boundaries to set.

The BCM Blogging Team

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