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How Reese’s Took On Its Critics and Won

Authors: Jessica Gioglio Jessica Gioglio
Posted Under: Social Media
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‘Tis the season for fun and festive holiday-themed offerings from companies. But what happens when your company’s holiday product doesn’t quite meet consumer expectations? As Reese’s recently found out, taking on critics in a clever way can actually generate more brand goodwill.

It started innocently. Consumers purchased Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Trees, expecting to find a tree-shaped piece of candy. Unfortunately for Reese’s, what consumers actually found didn’t quite resemble the shape of a tree.

With consumer conversations about the misshapen trees reaching a fever pitch on social media, Reese’s took a unique approach by taking on its critics in a clever way with a series of content proclaiming #AllTreesAreBeautiful.

While the creative is extremely clever, it’s important to note that Reese’s didn’t stop there. The company is also proactively responding to consumers who tweet about their misshapen trees with a series of fun and playful responses.

So, what can you learn from this festive faux pas turned engagement win?

Don’t Jump Straight Into an Apology

It’s easy to default to an apology in these situations. Had Reese’s gone down this path, the story would have been covered differently and potentially discouraged consumer purchases. Instead, the company was smart to take a step back, assess the situation, and take a creative approach to responding. The response acknowledges the misshapen trees and the 1:1 responses speak to their value proposition—the same delicious Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup taste that consumers love. As a result of this approach, Reese’s is changing the story narrative while generating positive engagement with its customers.

Respond to as Many Consumers as Possible

In crisis or sensitive situations, companies often panic and default to a blast response on their social media channels. Taking this approach will maximize the reach and awareness of the problem. In Reese’s case, a series of proactive blast responses makes sense because their take on the situation was humorous and the goal was to reach a maximum volume of customers. However, when the issue is negative but hasn’t generated attention from the news media, it might not be.

The alternative? Respond to as many consumers as possible, if not all. If you’re at the helm of a large, enterprise company during a crisis, this can be tough with a huge volume of messages to manage. Integrating social listening with the rest of your social media management solution will help you isolate and respond to conversations in real-time about the issue.

If the issue is generating a high volume of comments and is ongoing over multiple days to a week, it’s helpful to give team members shifts to avoid fatigue. Having all team members on the same platform is also critical to ensure that there will be no duplicate responses, and the next team member knows exactly where to pick up. On the consumer end, developing a variety of approved responses keeps the brand from feeling robotic, something which worked well for Reese’s.

Uncover and Reward Brand Advocates

As seen with the comments to Reese’s, many brand advocates came to the company’s defense during #TreeGate. This is one of many reasons why companies need to invest in advocacy programs. When advocates feel connected to a brand, they will share their experiences, highlight new products, and even stand up for a company in times of crisis.

Interestingly, crisis or negative situations also offer a good opportunity to uncover new brand advocates. It’s easy to get lost in the sea of messages and ruthlessly prioritize during sensitive situations, but smart companies do their diligence. Make sure to go back and thank or acknowledge their support. The prospect of being heard and a simple thank you goes a long way, especially if you want them in the trenches with you for the next dust-up.

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