The Pros and Cons of Social Media Product Recall Notices

Meagan Douglas
Thu, May 26, 2016
Social media is a convenient channel for consumers to find data shared by brands.
Social media is a convenient channel for consumers to find data shared by brands.

Information is a valuable resource in supply chain logistics management. Rapidly collecting and sharing data internally promotes productivity and decreases mistakes caused by miscommunication or ignorance. When there is a problem with the supply chain, providing consumers with the proper information can restrict damage to reputation and sales.

Modern manufacturers and distributors need to make use of every effective communication channel possible to get accurate supply chain data to consumers when announcing a recall. For this reason, many - but not all - companies use social media to spread details about dangerous products or improper packaging. As businesses deploy Facebook and Twitter recall notices, they learn the benefits and disadvantages of these platforms.

The Value of Social Media
While most businesses have a social media page, not every organization prioritizes the communication channel. According to ABC News, the Kids in Danger consumer group found that only 25 percent of manufacturers that have a Facebook page use the platform for product recall news. Customer advocates believe companies need to reevaluate Facebook, Twitter and the like for consumer data delivery due to the popularity of new media and the potential for easy dialogue.

Food Quality News shared data from a variety of supply chain research reports that demonstrated the benefits of utilizing corporate blogs and public social media channels for recall announcements. Companies that used one of the more popular social media channels when informing consumers of product or packaging problems suffered from less of a negative sales reaction than organizations that didn't have Facebook or Twitter accounts.

Social media is proven as an effective channel for providing consumers with timely information. This is especially important when supply chain problems could accidentally introduce dangerous products to the public. Quickly making details available on popular platforms reduces the risk to public safety.

The Problems With Informal Networks
As opposed to sharing recall information on credible news channels or official business websites, social media postings will sit side-by-side with user-generated content. It means honest details about supply chains may become lost amongst more sensational, but inaccurate information. As Winston Churchill once said, "A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on."

Take for example, a recent piece of fraudulent news that created negative PR for Coca Cola as it spread online. The Inquisitr reported a story about Dasani products being recalled due to parasitic worm contamination was proven false, but not before "Dasani parasite" become a trending topic on Twitter. The social media posts about the false allegations were accompanied by photos of scary looking worms to capture consumer attention.

Incidents like this aren't rare, as a lot of false information gets spread around social media pages. Facebook and Twitter users are especially likely to post and share inaccurate data about companies and public figures when the content aligns with their own internal biases. When companies have a Facebook page, they often have to contend with critics posting false details to try and discredit business content.

Creating Consistent Answers for Social Platforms
Food Quality News suggested the key to offering business social media accounts as a viable source of information is to continuously update the platform. Using Facebook or Twitter during a product recall allows an organization to post news as soon as it happens. Businesses can show consumers exactly what they need to know, what steps the company takes to remove the problem and when its done.

If a business doesn't use social media, people who turn to Twitter and similar sites for news will listen to other organizations and individuals sharing their thoughts on recalls. Manufacturers need to post their internal information supplied by real-time data collection solutions to display accurate pictures for the sake of consumer safety and public perception.

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