Bloc 2012 has been an unmitigated disaster. The outrage from festival goers on the web is impossible to avoid and it definitely looks like there are serious questions to be answered about the competence of the management and security. I’m not here to complain about the festival (I didn’t attend), but there are lessons to be learned from Bloc’s very public disaster which we witnessed as the festival went into meltdown late last night.
Bloc has over 8k followers on Twitter and over 37k Likes on Facebook. As the festival site apparently descended into chaos, social media was the one place that Bloc could have at tried to communicate with those at the festival about the problems that were being faced. But instead, they decided to continue as if everything was going brilliantly. It’s more important, it seems, to save face than to listen to what your audience were screaming at you.
As attendees pleaded for information about why they were queuing for up to three hours to enter the venue before being faced with more queues for the stages, Bloc thought it would be better to put out photos of the “fantastic” performances; performances that their audiences were unable to access. As the issues on site got serious and the police were called in, Bloc took a silent stance, not releasing any information at all to festival goers. A day later, their Twitter still hasn’t been updated despite the scathing words coming from attendees who felt hard done by. #bloc2012 makes for some really interesting, if sweary, reading.
Six hours after the site was shut down, Bloc finally released a statement of sorts. But it’s a case of too little too late; Bloc ignored their audience when they were needed the most. They had a hugely powerful communication tool at their fingertips but instead decided try and protect their reputation by not admitting to their failings.
So what can we learn from Bloc’s complete social failure? These points might seem obvious but I see orgs failing their audience all the time by ignoring some simple steps.
Listen to your audience:
When your audience are screaming at you that there is something wrong, listen. Tweets about huge queues appeared on Twitter from about 6.30pm yet there is no mention of it in any of Bloc’s tweets from the day. Bloc should have tweeted about long waiting times and advised festival goers to arrive early to ensure they saw the acts they wanted to.
Don’t pretend everything’s ok:
This was one of Bloc’s biggest mistakes. As thousands of tweets came in expressing frustration about the festival, they continued to tweet about great performances and retweeted the few happy tweets they received. It’s likely that this infuriated those who were having a bad time since it basically undermines their complaints. Saying “everything is great!” when it clearly isn’t is simply not a good idea. Listen, respond and try to fix the problem.
Admit when you’ve messed up:
Easily the most glaring mess up that Bloc made was their silence. A day later, there’s still no admittance from them that they made a huge mistake and lost control of the event. Festival goers are obviously angry about what happened, but much of the flak Bloc are receiving from them could have been avoided if they had of simply accepted it and apologised. I’m not saying they needed to put out a full statement at 1am, but a tweet and Facebook update with any kind of information would have gone a long way.
Still nothing from Bloc a whole day later.
Make it right:
Even at this late stage, Bloc can still save themselves from the social disaster they’ve created. There’s still time to communicate with their audience, explain what happened and say sorry but considering their silence last night, I wouldn’t be confident this will happen.
I understand that things were tricky last night – there was a real risk to festival goers and obviously fixing this and getting people out of the venue safely was top priority. But that doesn’t mean Bloc should have ignored their entire social audience. The complete silence was disastrous and in some ways, chilling. It could easily have made attendees feel as though the festival had abandoned them. It takes all of 30 seconds to write a short update. Why didn’t Bloc do this? Why did they decide to completely ignore the thousands of people who were turning to social media for guidance?
The only people that were willing to offer any advice to festival goers last night was the venue, The Pleasure Gardens. This is a simple tweet that Bloc could have copied: hell, they could have retweeted it.
But instead they stood silent and let thousands of people who were their responsibility fend for themselves. Let’s compare The Pleasure Gardens’ most recent tweets to Bloc’s. It says a lot, doesn’t it?