What To Do When The Competition Flops

What to do when the competition slips

Your competitor had a slip,

It was nothing too harmful and no one was hurt but it is something that could be social media gold.

What would you do?

Send the tweet via your brand’s social media account or keep it to an internal Slack conversation?

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What Should You Do

Any good digital marketer knows they need to be monitoring their competitors. Whether it’s through social or the press you want to be able to keep tabs on what your competition is (and is not doing) and nothing makes you feel a little bit better than when you see something and can say with relief I am glad that wasn’t me.

But what if you gave it more thought as you see reactions roll in you start to wonder if you should leave the one-liners and memes to the internet, press and public opinion or if this is something worth getting into?

We have seen this a few times within the last year. Whether it was taking sides after a Mooch’s short tenure at the Whitehouse, when United had their months of unfortunate events or when Wendy’s decided to Tweet a reply to McDonald’s about their frozen beef announcement. 

McDonalds Vs Wendys Tweet
via Wendy’s Twitter feed at Twitter.com

What made these brands comfortable to press the send button?

Did the reward outweigh the risk?

What did they have to consider before making a move?

A lot of these decisions have to be made within a few minutes, as the moment could easily pass and the joke missed making for your own PR disaster. So what should you consider before you bring this up for approval?


Are you prepared to take over the conversation?

You see a negative headline roll across your notifications about your competitor and you know your brand needs to respond in some way.

Is this a chance moment that you truly think is worth hijacking with your brands own comment?

If the answer is Yes! then you have to think about how you want to do this. No matter what, you have to use this moment to somehow bring light to your brand’s values and that can be done in one of two ways.

  1. You can go for the kill and point out how much better you are than your competitor.
  2. You can emphasize your differences by highlighting a policy change or making a public donation to an organization that might have been impacted by your competitor.

Either way, you need to emphasize your differences. And whatever path you choose may depend on the voice you have on social media.

  • Would people expect your brand to come up with zinger?
  • And if not would it be a good surprise?
  • Or would taking the high road and addressing issues by doing something good like volunteering, donating or updating policy be more impactful and meaningful?

You have to really consider the issue at large and your audience. How will they react? And will they help amplify your response- in a positive way?

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Things To Fear

If you decide to do it, to go all in and become a part of the conversation then be prepared for the consequences!

1. You may alienate consumers who aren’t loyal

Or maybe even the people who are! You don’t know if everyone is going to get the joke and not everyone has to but your audience should! Everything you do for your brand as a marketer is to help your brand and audience connect easier and once they are connected then to build on that to create loyalty.

I would hate to see that all lost over a 140 character Tweet! And even worse if it’s to get back at your competition. Before you do anything just remember your audience and try to understand how they might react.

2. You may come off as mean

It’s kind of strange that we can give brand personalities and personas, but social media has made that easier to do. Every brand who is active on social, especially Twitter and Instagram has started to build an image. One that people become used to, just like someone’s personality, you kind of know what to expect when you visit their page. So, is getting involved in the competitions crisis going to be expected or not? And if it’s not expected, that doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing to do it. You just have to make sure you won’t come off as mean by doing so!

3. Be prepared for a comeback

So you press send on your zinger and wait for all the re-tweets and replies to come. Maybe from your followers or if you’re lucky a media outlet like Buzzfeed may pick up on what you have done and reward you with a little free press. But what if you see your competitor has replied to your tweet, meaning that zinger wasn’t one and done, are you really ready to get involved in something.

  • Were you prepared for this?
  • Do you know how long you want to be involved?
  • Is it worth the fight?

This is a situation you need to prepare for and maybe even have guidelines in place so you don’t get too carried away.

Wrap It Up

PR and marketing are no longer only about your own brand! Whether you’re omitting or trolling your competition you have to know what’s going on and be prepared to respond if the timing is right!

We hope no one has a news cycle like United but you never know when someone in your industry could have a bad run leaving your team deciding if they should join the conversation or not…

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