Even though e-tailers focus highly on social media interactions and consumer-driven communication, brands find it difficult to control these conversations. Barely in a span of 6 months, brands like Flipkart, Snapdeal and Amazon have repeatedly been brought under the social media scanner by consumers.
All recent researches and studies point to rising prowess of social media in making or breaking a brand’s image. Brands are increasingly becoming vulnerable to social media conversations that cannot be controlled. Where some brands are making headway in listening to conversations, and acting on them efficiently, others are still learning the tricks of the new trade. However, one thing is clear, e-commerce players are certainly taking charge in terms of social media engagement.
In the latest e-commerce faux pas, a user posted this image of his order from Snapdeal, being delivered in a Flipkart Box, inside Snapdeal packaging. The picture went viral within hours.
In a similar incident, an image, posted by Reddit India on Twitter few weeks back, is still doing rounds on social media, showing Flipkart’s reception having a parcel from Amazon India placed in the corner.
This image led to a sporty Twitter banter of sorts between the two brands, and the feed were shared across social media networks. As many Twitter users began mocking the Indian e-commerce website after this post, Flipkart responded to the tweet by saying that the Amazon packaging was used as a garbage can in the reception area.
In yet another incident, a Mumbai resident had ordered a Samsung Galaxy smartphone on Snapdeal. Instead of the phone, he received Vim Bar in the package. Outraged, Krishnamurthy shared his grievance on Facebook.
The post was shared by over 20,000 people.
Snapdeal, of course, took notice of the complaint. However, it was a little late in resolving the concern. After six days of that post, Krishnamurthy posted that Snapdeal had refunded full money and apologized for the same.
Considering that 20,000 people had shared the post, covered by several mainstream media outlets as well, Vim Bar’s parent company, Hindustan Unilever Limited, decided to enter into a war of wits. HUL sent the consumer the same mobile which he had initially ordered on Snapdeal—a Samsung Galaxy Core Duo, along with a letter saying, “The pictures you posted online show that our brand was used in this incident. Vim is one of our iconic brands with some great consumer franchise. We felt bad about it, not to mention what you went through. Here is a small gesture from our side to cheer you up.”
Conversations at the centre
These incidents just go on to say that social media conversations are increasingly influencing consumer behavior, and perceptions. And, brands are catching up to the trend by engaging with consumers and rivals with equal rigour. Brand image is key, and in today’s day and age, social media is dictating brand loyalty and growth.
In India, ecommerce sites have been some of the most active users of social media channels, be it for marketing their offers or to provide customer service. Social media research firm, Simplify360, recently released some insights into the numbers and engagement that various ecommerce sites provide. According to them, among all pure eCommerce companies, Flipkart leads in numbers, while Snapdeal leads when it comes to engagement.
When it came to growth in Facebook fans, Flipkart and Snapdeal nearly doubled their total fan base in last one year.
According to a social media study by Social Wavelength, Twitter is the most preferred social media channel for people to share their shopping experiences, or brand views/reactions. This has made e-commerce stores hyper-active on Twitter; more than 40 per cent of tweets by these brands are replies to customer issues.
Even as e-commerce players are taking charge, traditional players are not far behind. Brands like HUL, P&G, PepsiCo are making their presence felt too.