How Do Cos. Respond To Unflattering Facebook Photos?

Do companies ever untag themselves from unflattering photos?

Facebook began allowing users to tag brands in photos in May. So, what could possibly go wrong? Well, plenty. And if something does go wrong, which companies are the quickest to respond?

Jason Feifer of Fast Company decided to answer those questions. He wanted to know whether companies would untag themselves from unflattering photos uploaded by others.

Coca-Cola was the fastest among companies that untagged the test photos, and it was joined by slower counterparts Papa John’s, Domino’s, and Oreo.

Meanwhile, photos posted and tagged on the pages of Cheerios, Snickers, Bridgestone Tires, Crest, and Dunkin Donuts were never untagged.

Coke untagged the photo posted and tagged by Feifer — a man with a sickened look on his face, pouring out a can of the soda into a toilet bowl — within one hour, and director of digital communications and social media Ashley Brown told Feifer:

If someone were to tag you in a photo and you didn’t like the shirt you’re wearing, you’d untag. That’s more or less the policy we have for Coke on Facebook.” She added that the company has a team that monitors its Facebook page 24/7, declining to commit to a number but saying that it is “a decent size. We have really smart people who take a look at these things. There’s always going to be a certain amount of good judgment involved.

Oreo untagged a photo of the same man in the Coke photo giving the middle finger, with the digit placed between the two sides of an Oreo cookie in two days, saying its Facebook page “rules of the road” prohibit obscene posts.

And a photo of a Pizza Hut pizza tagged and posted on the Facebook pages of Papa John’s and Domino’s was removed by the competing pizza purveyors in two hours and one day, respectively.

Among the photos that were not untagged, the one posted on the Cheerios page, of a man made of Cheerios throwing up the product, “hasn’t been reported or marked as inappropriate by our fans, and the team hasn’t identified it as one to be removed,” a General Mills spokesman told Feifer, adding, “We respect social media as a forum and have found that our fans do a nice job at reporting inappropriate content on the page, so we often listen to them when it comes to the need for removing a post or photo.”

As for the Bridgestone photo, of a tire that had seen better days, interactive marketing manager Chris Brashear told Feifer:

We do have a team trained to respond to feedback, both positive and negative. They view each interaction as opportunity to assist a customer, educate our larger fan base, and show our fans we want to engage with them regardless of the message.

The other photos that were never untagged were posted on the Facebook pages of:

  • Snickers — a montage of the same guy in the photos above taking a bite of a Snickers bar, making a sickened face, and spitting it out.
  • Crest — a dog walking away from a lump of toothpaste that had apparently just exited its system, with a Crest box in its mouth.
  • Dunkin Donuts — a rotting doughnut and wrapper on the sidewalk, surrounded by cigarette butts.

Readers: How carefully should companies and brands monitor their Facebook pages due to the ability to tag them in photos?

Photograph by Andrew Hur, courtesy of Fast Company.