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Corporate Social Media Mistakes: The Internet is a Small World

A Honda employee made a pretty big social media mistake earlier this month, highlighting the need for corporate social media policies. Honda launched a Facebook page for its new Accord Crosstour model. Reaction on the page was pretty monumental. And bad.

The great majority of wall commenters had nothing nice to say about this new model design. Some were fairly vicious in their appraisal of the new Crosstour. A few positive commenters popped in here and there. But, by and large, reaction was swift and vocal and negative.

And then a “fan” named Eddie Okubo chimed in with his two cents. I’ll let you take a look at how that panned out:

crosstour

Basically, Okubo commented as if he was just a random consumer with an opinion. The reality of the situation is that he works for Honda, in product planning, in the light truck division. Easily discovered via Google and LinkedIn. That knowledge suddenly makes Honda look shady – like they’re planting ringers in the social media community to talk up their brand.

Honda apparently removed the comment string and issued a statement that the comment was removed because Okubo failed to disclose his relationship with Honda and because he didn’t speak for Honda. Which is unfortunate – because my guess is that Okubo could probably have spoken really well on behalf of Honda, had he been given guidance on how to use social media and authority to do so.

He probably knows quite a bit about the Crosstour and the reasons behind the design decisions. He probably has a lot of interesting things to say as a brand ambassador. But instead of presenting himself in that light, he thought he’d fly under the radar and create a little bit of positive spin.

Unfortunately for Okubo and Honda, the internet is a small world after all. Hopefully Honda and many other companies learned a valuable lesson from this situation. What could have been the perfect opportunity for transparency and consumer engagement just turned bad all the way around.

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