Progressive’s Social Media Faux Pas

Aug 14 • Best Practices, Case Studies, Front Page, How to go viral, News, Social Media for Customer Service, social media marketing fails, Twitter, Twitter Business Marketing • 1240 Views

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The entire social media community let out a collective gasp today in light of the newest social media faux pas, committed by none other than Progressive Insurance, one of America’s largest auto insurance groups. Progressive has come under a massive social media storm after Matt Fisher posted “My Sister Paid Progressive Insurance to Defend Her Killer In Court” on his Tumblr account. Since this post published on Monday (August 13), Progressive has been bombarded on Facebook and Twitter with angry comments.

However, it was Progressive’s social media response on Twitter that has the social media community in an uproar. Progressive’s Twitter account, manned by an eleven-person team (whose photos and names are listed on the Twitter profile) sent out 16 automated, robotic replies, a huge faux pas in a situation like this.

Progressive tweets

As we all know and have seen time and time again, news stories can go viral on social media fast and furiously, whether they are right or wrong or have all the facts. We don’t know the whole situation surrounding Matt Fisher and Progressive, but we’re certainly seeing it play out online. Whether Progressive is at fault here, how they handle this crisis moving forward will be a huge factor in its future reputation. And the automated tweets? Not a good start. However, today, 20 hours after the auto-tweeting incident and after 20 hours of radio silence, Progressive has finally tweeted an “official” response: “Our Statement on the Fisher Case” with a link to an by their Claims General Manager Chris Wolf.

Perhaps the lesson here is that all companies should have a clear plan of action of how to handle a crisis like this one. That way, when they do come under fire, they won’t come across as looking ridiculous and damaging their online reputation … and ultimately, sales. How would you handle Progressive’s faux pas?

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3 comments
Quincy
Quincy

Thanks on your marvelous posting! I seriously enjoyed reading it.

Gwynne
Gwynne

How do you know the plan of action was not "automated" responses until it was legally permissible to respond? Wouldn't silence have been worse? Like juries instructed not to use social media during trial, companies cannot comment on pending litigation.

dgilman
dgilman

Gwynne, that's an excellent point that others have made. Yes, silence would have been worse, and we don't know for sure that these messages were automated, but it's the disingenuous appearance that got the social networks riled up. Social media is about keeping it real, and these identical, truncated expressions of sympathy didn't quite get there. If you would have responded the same or differently, we'd love to hear your thoughts. Thanks!

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