SAAB files for bankruptcy: Fans rage at GM

SAAB have petitioned the Swedish government for bankruptcy, which signals the demise of the car brand.  SAAB is now owned by General Motors who are being blamed for the downturn by fans of SAAB.

Fans have flooded GM’s page with angry rants about SAAB as these comments on GM’s Facebook page show:

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GM has wisely not decided to respond to the tirade on its Facebook page, but more importantly it is not deleting any of the negative posts.  It also appears to have a co-ordinated approach to its marketing communications and has had no flippant marketing campaigns or posts on their wall from other divisions of GM.

In times of crisis, when a brand has experienced the ‘occupation’ of  its brand page by disgruntled fans it’s important that a brand has a co-ordinated approach to marketing communications.  Unfortunately Qantas did not, offering prizes of luxury pyjamas in the midst of a union dispute.

When Nestle’s Facebook page was brandjacked over its policy of using palm oil in chocolate production the brand hit back:

“So, let’s see, we have to be well-mannered all the time but it’s perfectly acceptable to refer to us as everything from idiots right the way down to sons of satan with a few obscenities and strange sexual practices thrown in?”

It’s better to remain silent during the outburst of initial anger and go back with a considered measured response.

An ill timed, snappy retort might fan the flames of fury further and damage the brand reputation and image.  GM is doing the right thing by keeping quiet.  It will be able to craft a much better considered response if it waits for a while.

It remains to be seen however whether a considered response will pacify lovers of this iconic car, or serve to cause a second wave of anger over a cost based business decision, devoid of emotion.

Only time will tell…

Eileen is a social business strategist, ZDNet columnist and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.

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