Nakakaoffend! On Nikon’s Socially Awkward Moment


We bit our lips; she looked out the window

Rolling tiny balls of napkin paper

I played a quick game of chess with the salt and pepper shaker

And I could see clearly, an indelible line was drawn

Between what was good, what just slipped out and what went wrong

The phenomenon that John Mayer so eloquently describes can be summed up in three words by this internet generation: that awkward moment. Sometimes we crack that inappropriate joke, mistake someone for pregnant when in fact she just gained a few extra pounds, or let out a secret to a person who wasn’t supposed to be in on it. I myself made a similar mistake a day or two ago (but that’s not for this blog). Tao lang (we’re only human), we always say. But what if it’s a brand, and not a human who does it?

Brad Geiser of GeiserMaclang—in one of his seminars I was fortunate enough to attend—described two different spheres: the social and the commercial. Traditionally, these two don’t mix. But with social marketing, brands, who used to be limited to the commercial sphere, are now moving into our social circles. One main way of doing this online is through interactive Facebook pages. We all know the drill—you like a page, and moderators post status updates, polls, and other fun things meant to draw responses from you and the other fans of the page. The thing is, these brands are actually quite socially awkward. They’ve been used to traditional PR, advertising, and marketing for so long, that they feel a little lost when it comes to human interaction.

Nikon’s socially awkard moment happened recently, when their site moderator posted this status:

A photographer is only as good as the equipment he uses, and a good lens is essential to taking good pictures! Do any of our facebook fans use any of the NIKKOR lenses? Which is your favorite and what types of situations do you use it for?

Reads: A photographer is only as good as the equipment he uses, and a good lens is essential to taking good pictures! Do any of our facebook fans use any of the NIKKOR lenses? Which is your favorite and what types of situations do you use it for?

That’s when the bad stuff hit the fan. As of today, the post has 4,224 comments and 1,850 shares. The reactions are mixed, but for the most (and the earlier) part, a lot of fans—most of whom were professional photographers—were upset and offended by the post. Some people even went as far as saying they would boycott Nikon for Canon and made it into a war-of-the-brands kind of thing.

That same day they responded with this apology, which appeased most of the page’s audience:

We know some of you took offense to the last post, and we apologize, as it was not our aim to insult any of our friends. Our statement was meant to be interpreted that the right equipment can help you capture amazing images. We appreciate the passion you have for photography and your gear, and know that a great picture is possible anytime and anywhere.

Reads: We know some of you took offense to the last post, and we apologize, as it was not our aim to insult any of our friends. Our statement was meant to be interpreted that the right equipment can help you capture amazing images. We appreciate the passion you have for photography and your gear, and know that a great picture is possible anytime and anywhere.

The mistake that Nikon made here was its lack of understanding of its audience. Most photographers, especially the passionate and the professionals, feel that good photography depends on the photographer’s eye, and not on the camera, or any other equipment. In fact, some are even annoyed at amateurs who feel as if they’re pros because they can afford high-end cameras. And as we’ve learned, understanding the audience—their attitudes, their beliefs, and their needs—is essential to any PR or social media move. Nikon’s intention of starting a discussion thread on lenses ended up being a rant thread on Nikon’s blunder.

Just like us, who can be so insensitive sometimes, Nikon slipped up a little. However, they were able to make ammends by not deleting or making excuses* for the offensive post, but simply by apologizing sincerely for it. And people accepted it, because that’s what we do when people apologize. People actually are willing to treat brands like they do other people. I think that this became a learning experience to Nikon, and has brought it one step farther away from being socially awkward.


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About rz fortajada
20, Student | Frustrated Rockstar | Part-time Ninja Turtle | Blogger

6 Responses to Nakakaoffend! On Nikon’s Socially Awkward Moment

  1. Mae says:

    Hi Ate Rz. This is a pretty interesting case. I just came from seminar in which one of the speakers talked about managing brand pages, and even she admitted that there are times when brand page managers like her makes mistakes, too. What’s important is how they make up for it. Judging from the time difference, the number of comments, Likes, and shares, in the two pics you shared, I can say that Nikon remedied the situation well.

  2. Brian says:

    The “awkward moment” that Nikon experienced really shows that communication efforts being done by brands should always be thought of and planned well–even when they are just Facebook status posts. Though Nikon apologized appropriately, it took them about 16 hours after posting the offensive status post to remedy the situation online. I think that the incident proves how fast a crisis can occur (and spread) online and that careful and timely response of the brand to such situations is always necessary to avoid any further damage to brand image and reputation.

  3. Pingback: From Socially Awkward to Social Alpha « The OrCommuter

  4. The incident just shows how fast bad stuff can spread online. It also shows how mere words can kill (hurt lang pala) a brand. All communication efforts must be thought out very well before they are executed. This is a good lesson for other brands to learn.

    I’d like to commend your take on the situation. Yes, Nikon made a wrong move and pretty much insulted its prized customers – the passionate photographers. Their first post was clearly offending to those customers who rely on their skill to produce awesome shots. These are people who take pride in their work and the time they put in to learn the art.

    The good thing about it is that Nikon apologized. People were accepting of their apology so I think it’s back to normal. I just hope they responded to their mistake a little faster.

  5. Great thing Nikon apologized. With the looks of it, their apology was well taken (based on the number of likes it got). For starters, I bet the initial post was made abruptly because it even misspelled the brand’s name. #

  6. Monini says:

    “In fact, some are even annoyed at amateurs who feel as if they’re pros because they can afford high-end cameras.”

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHA. I really couldn’t stop laughing because I know someone who’s bragging of being a professional photographer despite the amateur photos he/she (curious? :P) produces. There is even a Facebook LIKE page dedicated for amateur photogs acting like pros!

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