Enterprise 2.0 – A double edged sword

There is no doubt that taking the plunge and incorporating web 2.0 tools and applications throughout your organization can be an extremely rewarding exercise.  But… is this always the case? What happens when things go wrong? What happens when the outcome isn’t quite what you expected? What happens when the public turns on you? In this blog I will be looking at both sides of the enterprise 2.0 coin with specific focus on the benefits and risks to organizational reputation.

Firstly, outright success with BlendTec

Who would have thought anyone could make a blender cool, no matter how outside the square you were prepared to think? Well… “Bledtec” manufacturer of blenders / mixers have a cult following on the internet due to a marketing campaign that is outside of the square, a little crazy, and highly effective. They have developed a game show type scenario called “Will it blend?” in which everything from iPhones to Old Spice bottles are thrown into various blenders and reduced to smithereens. Click here  to watch an iPhone get reduced to tiny little pieces. According to chaosmap sales of the Blendtec brand  increased by more than 700% and the demand for blenders has not gone up! With almost 11,000,000 views on youtube and 100,000 likes on facebook blendtec has become the trendy brand to own.

So blendtec achieved:

Improved company reputation – from a little known blender manufacturer to an internet sensation with a cult following on you tube because they decided to dice up iPhones and tennis shoes. Blendtec is now synonymous with quality, innovation and thinking outside the square.

Increased visibility in the market place – I had actually heard of Blentec before INB346, hence this feature. They are a  blender manufacturer on the other side of the world – check out their headquarters in UTAH, USA here. I am not a cook nor do I have any real conceivable need for a blender, I just liked watching a tennis shoe get diced up when I stumbled upon their youtube video. If I, like 11,000,000 other people, decided to buy a blender I would definitely at least price a blendtec model. Blendtec have successfully increased their visibility and appeal to people who have no active interest in their products – Amazing!

Southwest Airlines

Southwest airlines have a policy that states if you do not comfortably fit between the arm rests of the seats in their passenger jets you are asked to purchase two seats, ok fair enough. Southwest airlines also have a strong online presence with over 3 million likes on Face book and advertise many of their sales & promotions through twitter with a very active presence, ok, again, fair enough. But… what happens if a seemingly random fat man is asked to leave the plane at the last second, then later you find out that fat man is Kevin Smith who has over 1,600,000 twitter followers? This happens.

To the credit of Southwest airlines they were on the pulse and responded to the Kevin’s tweet almost immediately (16 minutes) with an apology and indicated that they would like to make things right. However this could not stop the social media catastrophe that would ensue. Kevin fired back without about 6 tweets to every one supplied by Southwest and the end result? Well, “according to Position, a search and social media marketing firm, in a span of six days, the incident generated 3,043 blog mentions, 5,133 forum posts and 15,528 tweets.”

How did this affect Southwest’s reputation? Like this: 

Increased Negative Visibility in the Market place – People who otherwise would not have thought twice about booking with southwest as long as the price was competitive have a lingering image of Kevin Smith being ejected off a flight and being very unhappy about it. Unfortunately there is not a whole lot that south west can do about this, and the figures speak for themselves. Based on this incident alone 38% of respondents indicated that they would no longer fly Southwest, while 26% believed it was poor customer service. This is terrible exposure, not to mention the fact that this took place in the world’s most notoriously obese country!

Decreased company reputation In one foul swoop Kevin Smith harnessed the power of web 2.0 and made SouthWest Airlines famous for targeting and picking on fat people.

What do you think? Would you still fly with south west?

Would you buy a blendtec blender after seeing the iPhone get destroyed?

I look forward to your comments below, and until next week – harness enterprise 2.0 carefully as it is a double edged sword.


19 thoughts on “Enterprise 2.0 – A double edged sword

  1. I found this blog very fascinating, firstly so because i too have heard of the Blendtec blender and have spent many of my hours watching shoes, phones, golf balls and just about anything you can think of blend in that blender. Have i bought one myself? No, but have i thought about how cool it would be to purchase one and do that at home, definitely.
    As for Southwest it shows how influential social media can be on the masses of “sheep” these days, especially when someone who is popular or famous speaks out their opinion. But i don’t believe they were necessarily in the wrong, they have a policy too abide by and just because someone is “famous” doesn’t mean it shouldn’t apply to them. If some overweight house wife was kicked off the plane, no one would give two hoots but as soon as the famous guy is hassled, immediate storm approaching.
    Maybe if the guy new he was fat he should have just accepted that it’s his choice of lifestyle, rules are the rules and bought two seats like everyone else instead of having a big old winge about it.

  2. Great post Adam!

    You have highlighted a real challenge of social media. It was a tough call for Southwest to introduce the seat policy. On the positive side, it may sound attractive to potential (non-overweight) customers, knowing that they will have a comfortable seat and the space they are paying for. On the other hand, for an overweight customer, they will most likely rule Southwest out for future travels as they will either have to pay more, or be mocked. I am not sure if there is any more they can do for customers who do not conform to the seat policy. They responded to the tweet with an apology and offered to make things right. What else could they have done to save the reputational damage from social media? Change the seat policy perhaps? Turn around and focus their business on non-overweight customers? How can they successfully do that without discriminating overweight people? Tough call!

  3. That was a very interesting post. I haven’t heard of Blendtec before, but I have seen videos of iPhones and iPads before blended into small bits, and that’s the most important part. If someone said to me, have you heard of blendtec, I would say no. The next right question would be, Are you sure you haven’t heard of the blendtec? It’s the blender that blended an iPhone and iPad, then I would say, OH that’s blendtec! I think the best way to advertise a product is to showcase its feature and promoted by social media. It’s not always about the brand, it’s also about the product, what do you think about this Adam?

    Great post, will follow your blog for next week 🙂

    • Absolutely Calvin, I would have to agree with you. Brand is one thing – I mean Apple is super famous right? However, If the iFone came out tomorrow, was made by Panasonic and had a better OS and better specs for the same money I would buy it sight unseen, instead of the iPhone 🙂

  4. Awesome post – Highlighted the extremes of enterprise 2.0 implementation perfectly.

    I have also heard of blendtec before this blog post when I was trying to find out how durable IPhones are. Something bout seeing an IPhone being blended made me happy!

    I would still fly Southwest airlines, I feel bad for Southwest, but if he was unable to be seated safely they would have had no option but to eject him from the plane if they could not find him any double seats. Would you still fly south west?

    • Me personally? Hell yeah… I’d fly with south west. Kevin Smith was definitely cool in Clerks, but even he admits that he is fat. Southwest make it very clear that fat people need to ensure they have two seats. It’s not discrimination, if you are too big for one, you need two, simple.

  5. Very interesting post, what’s kind of mixer that will blend an iPhone !! I have never heard about BlendTec, but I would like to have mixer like that… for southwest story I can’t imagine they did that to Kevin, it is true that I am slim but what if I was the person who setting just next Kevin and they asked to leave, I will hate watching this without doing anything !!

    Great post Adam.

  6. Blendtech is a great example of utilizing social media to increase exposure of your product and in turn sales. Unfortunately a lot of businesses still have yet to catch on and will pretty much miss the boat.

    Kevin Smith is a boss!

  7. Awesome post! I really like the stories you chose to illustrate your theory. But as far as I am concerned, watching an Iphone being torned in bits and pieces was really painful…
    But it did arouse my curiosity and I spent a fair enough amount of time watching a skeleton, glow sticks and above all Justin Bieber being blended. Now if I were to choose a blender brand I would definitely consider BlendTec because the videos proved that it was good quality but also because the company triggered some kind of emotional reaction for me towards their brand which now appear to me as funny, innovative and qualitative.
    Good job BlendTec!

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  9. HI Adam,

    I really liked your example of the Southwest airlines.

    THat was a fantastic one. To show the power of the true social media.. No matter how highly reputable a company is, if it has bad service/attitude, its reputation can also just sink overnight, with the ‘help’ of social media, thanks to poor attitude and poor customer service.

    Especially in servce orientated industries, the last thing that they want to do, is to piss off their customers.

    Oh well, good good example!

  10. Hi Adam,
    interesting post to read!
    Regarding Southwest Airlines – this would probably have happen even if they had not been represented or visible at Twitter. Luckily Southwest Airlines adopted Web 2.0 tools and they were able to quickly “do things right” by replying Kevin. If not, things could probably have been even more catastrophic in terms of bad reputation. Just imagine if they had to do a public announcement where they apologized to him. ..then even more people would have snapped it up and shared it in media (including me) 😉


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