By Antoine Dubeauclard
May 20, 2010
In 2009, two Domino’s Pizza employees filmed themselves tainting food they were making for customers and posted the video on the Internet. Not even bothering to cover their faces, the duo was quickly identified and fired. Yet the damage was done; the video got over a million views on YouTube.
That’s over a million people who have their view of Domino’s quality control dominated by the image of employees tainting food. In other words, that’s a million PR problems.
Domino’s had been bitten by social media. Did they run from it? Did they have YouTube take down any video that mentioned them in any way? No.
They set out to start processing tweets and wall posts in support of the audacious “Pizza Turnaround” campaign. That campaign’s website, PizzaTurnaround.com, features a Twitter feed where visitors can see what’s being said about Domino’s new pizza on Twitter, both good and bad.
At the time of writing, these “tweets” vary from “Domino’s new pizza = CRACK” to “The new Domino’s IS worse.” Domino’s takes it all in stride. Their faith in their product lets them trust that the overall trend will be positive, and the transparency will make consumers trust the message more.
Domino’s is also active through their Twitter account. “Phil from HQ” hosts the account, and he’s tweeting 20-30 times a day, interacting with users who are either followers or often just people who have mentioned Domino’s in their tweets (you can search). His tweets aren’t just Domino’s related either: Phil tweets about interesting facts, television (he’s a big fan of Glee), and wherever else interactions with users take him. In other words, he’s human.
With all the changes the company has made, Domino’s sales are up 32 percent over 2008 numbers. Their experience provides an example for a valuable rule: it’s better to be proactive than reactive in social media. If the 2009 food tainting incident had happened today, Phil probably would have been on the case in a matter of hours, if not less, doing damage control and activating the community to step up for the brand.
Internet users spend almost 20 percent of their time online on social media. With that kind of use, it’s important to know what people are saying about your company online, and it’s better to establish a presence so you can steer your company’s perception in the medium before it gets steered for you. As someone who lives in this space, I’d like to give kudos to Domino’s for being proactive in changing their strategy to better accommodate a changing marketplace. The numbers don’t lie; theirs is an example to learn from.
Antoine Dubeauclard is president of Media Genesis, a Web development firm based in Troy, Mich. He has been writing and speaking on Internet related subjects for over 10 years. Dubeauclard can be contacted at [email protected].