Does silence on social media ever work for a brand? Shortly after looking at Carnival’s choice to withdraw (temporarily) from social media following the Costa Concordia disaster, international accessories and jewelry retailer Claire’s tried a similar tactic. Faced with accusations of blatantly copying jewelry designs from UK-based independent designer Tatty Devine, Claire’s has chosen to largely ignore criticism flooding in on Facebook and Twitter.
Last week Tatty Devine blogged about Claire’s copying several of its designs, and selling these pieces in Claire’s stores around the world. The blog featured images of the designs in question, with pictures of Tatty Devine products in direct comparison with the Claire’s knock-offs.
The news was rapidly picked up on social networks, and angry tweets about Claire’s started to trend on Twitter. Fans also began posting on Claire’s Facebook page, many with links to the Tatty Devine blog post. How did Claire’s react to fans’ questions and criticisms on social networks?
According to a tweet from Tatty Devine, Claire’s initially removed the ability to post on their Facebook page. In addition, Claire’s blocked some users from their Facebook page, and deleted posts that criticized the brand regarding the copycat accusations (ZDNet).
On Twitter, the first (and only) mention of the issue by Claire’s was a tweet on February 24, two days after the Tatty Devine blog post went up and fans started reacting, which said “Claire’s responsibly provides customers with the latest trends. We take claims of wrongdoing seriously and are reviewing the matters raised.” A bit late considering the controversy was trending before that, but at least an acknowledgment that the issue is being addressed.
On Facebook, fans can once again post to Claire’s Facebook wall, and it looks as though the deleted comments have been put back up, though still with no response from Claire’s:
Claire’s refusal to interact with fans and followers definitely created an even greater backlash, with many fans claiming they’ll never shop at Claire’s again, and expressing their anger that comments were deleted from Facebook. Obviously Claire’s realized that deleting comments doesn’t help – but what did they hope to accomplish by simply putting them back on the Facebook wall without actually acknowledging the issue and responding?
One fan points out how much effort must have gone into deleting the posts about Tatty Devine – wouldn’t that time have been better spent responding directly to fan’s concerns? The Tatty Devine blog posted updates every day or two about the progress being made with Claire’s – much of the copied merchandise (thought not all) has been removed from sales floors. Why didn’t Claire’s deal with the issue in a more transparent manner, and post this information for their own fans?
According to ZDNet, this is not the first time Claire’s has been accused of copying designs – last year Laura Figiel of She Draws accused Claire’s of using one of her designs.
As with Carnival and the Costa Concordia, silence on social media is seldom (if ever) a good idea for your brand. Customers are complaining in realtime – brands need to listen and address those concerns as quickly as possible. This is a big social media fail for Claire’s, and an important lesson for other companies that may face a similar crisis on social platforms.