Snoo.ws – which specialises in user generated content, and is published by the specialist company ICUC Moderation Services – has recently blogged about Neal’s Yard’s unfortunate recent appearance on the Guardian’s Ethical Living blog. However, especially given that snoo.ws are styled as communication specialists, we found their coverage of this story to be a really striking fail (to use a social media term with which they are familiar).
Discussing a story about Neal’s Yard Remedies selling homoeopathic remedies for malaria (now withdrawn) snoo.ws states that
The story was leaked to the Guardian, a major UK daily, which ran the story and opened a forum on the controversial issue called You Ask, They Answer.
Not quite. The malaria story was ‘leaked’ through an MHRA press release, just over a year ago. Also, the ‘you ask, they answer’ feature on the Guardian website encouraged readers to discuss a range of issues about Neal’s Yard Remedies, offering a
chance to grill them: from the controversy surrounding the chain’s removal of a homeopathic malaria remedy to the benefits and reasons to switch to organic beauty products.
Snoo.ws also state that
by [Neal’s Yard] not actively monitoring its online brand image, they failed to capitalize on an opportunity to tell their side of the story
No, it looks like snoo’s monitoring of this story is flawed. According to the Guardian, Neal’s Yard Remedies were aware of this discussion of the company and had agreed to participate. Unfortunately, after seeing some of the early questions, it seems like Neal’s Yard Remedies chose not to respond.
Strengthening the impression that their monitoring of this story is flawed, snoo.ws state that
No where [sic] does it state that Neil’s Yard Remedies was aware of this forum or was a willing participant
However, the Guardian site promises (in the second sentence of the first paragraph of its introduction to this feature) that
For the next four days, ethical skin and body care products firm Neal’s Yard Remedies will be doing its best to answer your questions below.
As to whether Neal’s Yard Remedies were a willing participant, basic research would have shown that the Guardian have made explicit that
The company had agreed to participate
The explicit timeline was laid out in exquisite detail by Adam Vaughan on May 28 in a follow-up post where he invited no lesser a PR luminary than Max Clifford to comment upon The PR lessons from Neal’s Yard Remedies public debate U-turn. Snoo posted their discussion of the Neal’s Yard Remedies story on May 29.
I did try to engage with Snoo.ws on this – posting a comment on their blog – but they have not responded yet. Some observers might think that that this is not an appropriate way to deal with the story about Neal’s Yard Remedies or with my user generated content and not the best example of the usefulness of social media engagement or tracking.
Snoo.ws confidently promises to
profile innovative uses of UGC [User Generated Content] and showcase new UGC contest and campaign ideas.
ICUC Moderation Services Inc. – the publisher of Snoo.ws – declare themselves to be
more than just a moderation company. We lead companies through the integration and execution of user generated content campaigns by protecting brands, building communities, and acting as the eyes and ears of the brand in an online community.
Given this striking confidence, I can’t help but recall Kruger and Dunning’s wonderful paper on how one can be unskilled and unaware of it [PDF]. For people presenting themselves as specialists in user generated content, the way in which snoo.ws handled this story is a truly epic fail.
UPDATE: courtesy of a comment from brainduck, it appears that snoo.ws used a picture with a Creative Commonslicense which requires attribution to illustrate their post. They failed, though, to give the original author credit for their work – classy. Another fail from the specialists at snoo.ws.
UPDATE 2: courtesy of Neuroskeptic, we highlight the concern that Snoo feels for someone called Neil who seems somehow to be caught up in the Neal’s Yard Remedies kerfuffle.
No where does it state that Neil’s Yard Remedies was aware of this forum or was a willing participant…Because of the company’s inaction Neil’s Yard Remedies appeared cowardly…If Neil’s Yard Remedies was engaging the public prior to this they would have had a pretty good idea of the things that would be said and therefore would have likely been in a better position to respond.
We hope things resolve themselves for Neil pretty quickly as that would be very irritating and even downright annoying if he had a brand name or image to protect.