Brands that have been opting out of the social networking craze should take notice of the situation Amazon.com found itself in over the Easter holiday weekend, when authors of gay and erotic literature took to Twitter to instantly raise awareness that the online bookseller had dropped titles with “adult” content from the website’s best selling lists.
Angry that their books became de-ranked, with classics like The Well of Loneliness, Tipping the Velvet, Brokeback Mountain and Lady Chatterly’s Lover disappearing, poular writers began alerting thousands of their Twitter follwers of the situation. A campaign to start a Googlebomb was initiated, an online petition gaining more than 15,000 signatures started, and bloggers took up the issue quickly, raising attention even further. The topic is being tagged on Twitter as #amazonfail
Zoe Margolis (@girlonetrack) the author of “Girl With A One Track Mind” began broadcasting her views about Amazon.com Sunday, saying to her Twitter followers that:
“This is a serious f****** issue and anyone that cares about censorship and sexual repression should be boycotting Amazon.”
Within 24 hours the issue had reached mainstream news headlines and Amazon.com responded to the media calling the situation “a glitch in our system.” The well-connected Margolis won her follwers attention, including media and celebrities such as Jonathan Ross who rallied to her cause, and she quickly became a spokesperson for the topic, appearing on Channel 4 news and offered commentary in The Guardian.
“You know what’s great? A few hashtags and tweets result in something far better than a boycott: bad publicity – it always works,” she Twittered.
If there was ever an example of why brands should heed the power of social networking sites, this could be the tipping point. The case shows how consumers can rally quickly to an issue and strongly express their views before a brand may even have a clue what is going on. It proves that brands that don’t pay attention to the new power people have, are open to experiencing instant damage inflicted on reputation if they don’t monitor conversations, and respond quickly.
While Amazon.com offered a short statement to the mainstream media, they have not responded directly to the thousands of people who expressed views on Twitter, with many saying they will boycott the bookseller. The online retailer has several Twitter identities, including @amazon, but has not used this communication tool to date. Many are saying they want more direct attention from the brand, and that the brief statement does not cut it.
“I think the ‘glitch’ was in human judgement and the right thing to do would be step up and apologize,” commented the Twitter user @yuricon. “What we want: Acknowledge a mistake in policy and in judgement, apologize, then allow us to make our own decisions.”
Watching this story unfold,