Guest Post by: Charlie Osmond

Maclaren has become the latest victim of social media activism. They have joined a growing list of companies to have suffered at the hands of bloggers and Tweeters [Twitterers?].

I find this story interesting for two reasons:

  1. It highlights how social media jumps geographical boundaries.
  2. It reminds me how much Social Media experts love to hype these effects.

                 Not a day for MacLaren

Maclaren is a UK manufacturer of prams. On Tuesday they announced the recall of 1M baby pushchairs in the US. This was after 15 reports of injuries to children’s fingers. They also offered US customers free repair kits.                                                                                                    

However, despite having identical products in both UK and US markets, in the UK, rather than a recall or an offer of repair kits, they simply assured parents not to worry about it.

It didn’t take long for social networks and blogging sites to react. Some created email templates to send to the firm and even David Milliband, UK Foreign Secretary, referenced the debate in a Tweet.

So 3 days on and Maclaren has adopted an identical policy in the UK.

On one hand the social media part of this is a big deal. The Financial Times wrote about it and the company has changed a policy that may have a huge impact on their bottom line. All thanks to social networks spanning the globe.

On the other hand, they moved pretty quickly and the real story here is the recall, not the social media impact. They listened to what was said on blogs and Twitter and before the end of the week had changed their policy. I’d call that good social media monitoring and pretty speedy action for a large company.

And that brings me to my second point: the social media echo-chamber can blow these things out of proportion. It annoys me when I read blogs proclaiming Armageddon after cases like this. Sure, this has been a really critical week for Maclaren. One can only imagine the anguish throughout the business. Yes, there is now one more company where social media has made it to the boardroom. But they did not commit a massive social media faux pas. They reacted with common sense after taking a little time to reflect.

I suspect 90% of customers will probably not be aware of the hesitation that came ahead of the policy change. In a month’s time this will be remembered as just a recall story.

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