If there’s one golden rules when it comes to social media marketing, it’s this: the Internet always knows. This rule, if understood and respected, can lead to a harmonious relationship between brand and user in both the good and the bad times. When social media scheduling platform Buffer faced a hacking attack in 2013, they did what few companies have, but all should do. They were open and transparent about it. They kept their users up to date through emails, tweets, Facebook posts and releases to the media. Soon, all the Internet could talk about wasn’t the hack…but the fact that the Buffer team were so on top of it. The fact that Buffer was hacked was chalked up to the fact that they’re a juicy target for any hacker (as any major company, site, or service is) and their customers understood that. But the Buffer team set the bar for any form of crisis management. It’s safe to say, and the metrics prove it, that Buffer’s response to the hack actually WON them customers.

Contrast this with Target. Only a month or two later they suffered one of the most devastating hacks of all time. More than 70 million Target customers had their details stolen from Target’s databases in a malware attack on the store’s computers. But what did Target do in response to this? They completely closed ranks. They said nothing and they didn’t even confirm that there was a security breach until days later when the evidence was overwhelming.

Whilst the two responses to similar situations are worth their own blog post (and to be taught in crisis management seminars the world over) they’re not the purpose of this post. The purpose of this post is that, on the internet, it pays to be honest.

Let’s take a look at a photo:



This photo was posted yesterday by Frank Body, an Australian based coffee skincare company, on their company Instagram. As Instagram photos go…it’s quite good. It references the product but doesn’t sell to you, it highlights the hashtag and it reminds customers that the product is coffee based. It’s easy to see why they managed to ratchet up more than 2500 likes on the photo.

But, it also looks quite a bit like THIS photo taken 45 weeks prior.



Very similar, in fact. Quite possibly because they’re the same photo.

What happened? Well, it didn’t take long for Frank Body’s customers to find out and they weren’t too pleased about it. Here are just a few of their comments.

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Frank Body did, eventually, credit the original photographer and apologised (they claimed that they simply couldn’t find any attribution to them when they originally searched for the picture). However, for many of Frank Body’s followers the damage has been done. Now, every post that they send out will be tainted with suspicion that it’s stolen.

Be transparent, be honest and always, always give credit where it’s due!



Following my own advice: I’d like to thank Gianni Borrelli for giving me the idea to do this piece!