SoMe No No from Sapient Nitro

Sapient Nitro's viral video goes in the wrong direction. Mistake after mistake makes for a great social media lesson. Let's see the sequence.


  1. First, one Sapient Nitro office in Bangalore puts out this video. (Note it is not on Sapient Nitro's YouTube channel or on Vimeo, where it may have started; more on that below.) Granted it's not going to win any awards. Some could consider it lame by creative standards. That may have been the first blunder.  Mistake Number 1. Lesson: leave creative to talented creatives. Leave writing code to people who know code. Etc. Oh, and keep in mind that anything on the web can find its way around the world pretty fast. Mistake Number 2: Never forget that the web isn't just in your home town, it's everywhere.
  2. Sapient Nitro Idea Engineer's Music video.
  3. It did not take long for the critics to show up and blast the agency for this less than stellar attempt at self-promotion.  Agency types can be vicious, and other agency types should know this better than anyone.  Mistake Number 3:  SN should have started engaging in a pro-active way right away.  Either with humor or an admission of a brain cramp. It's also possible that if they had not bothered to delete it that they could have done nothing and just let it blow over. That, I suppose, depends on your tolerance for criticism.
  4. Oh no, you have to be kidding. Alas, SN didn't engage. They panicked. Sapient Nitro starts taking down Facebook comments.  And they remove the video.  But as you saw above, the video is still there.  Ever hear of screen capture?  It's hard to imagine how this could have happened to someone who allegedly is in the social media business. There is no shortage of case studies that remind us not to do this.  A few below:  Mistake Number 4: Do not try and edit the community.  Or delete them.  There is no mistake bigger than that. 
  5. I don't know whether or not SN saved/archived the comments they deleted.  I hope so as they may want to republish them to restore their credibility. They can't actually restore the posts, only the content. (Unless the original poster returns, in which case "The conversation’s history will be preserved, and you will still be able to find it later. If the same person sends you a new message later, the archived conversation will reappear, and the new message will be added to it.") But presumes they did not make Mistake Number 5: Fail to archive deleted comments. 
  6. Note that there have been numerous articles about what not to do in social media.  From Nestle's blow up at fans to AMC's attempt to take over the fake Twitter handles of Don and Betty to United Airlines and the broken guitar. The best thing a brand can do is to engage, listen, be authentic and transparent. And most importantly, avoid Mistake Number 6: No crisis management plan. SN needed a plan for crisis management and a pre-determined set of steps to follow in light of something like this.
  7. The more mistakes you make, the more opportunities you create for the press and bloggers to jump all over you. Note that you can't ever really delete anything. It will live forever online in some form or another.
  8. When thing start to spiral this quickly, it's hard to stay rational. (Again, this would be easier with a crisis management playbook.) One thing you don't want to do is get defensive.  Mistake Number 7:  Don't get defensive. It just attracts more criticism.
  9. By now, SN has to do something.  So they wrote a blog post. I hate to say it but it, too, was flawed. They actually threw employees in the culpable office under the bus.  "You know what? Many places have many cultures. And sometimes what works in one culture doesn’t really translate as it travels the globe. (Like when a person shows his love of the job in musical form.)" Mistake Number 8: Passing the blame.  

  10. As you can see, even employees started to weigh in on the comments.  Not good for morale.  

    Some quotes from the comments.

    From: Unique

    So... you're a global agency that apparently understands that this is a modern digital global marketplace where international/cultural boundaries are now at best blurred, if not meaningless?...

    "You know what? Many places have many cultures. And sometimes what works in one culture doesn’t really translate as it travels the globe...."... Really?!

    Think you lot need stop digging a hole, hold your hands up and stop trying to turn everything that happens into a PR opportunity. Doesn't look good.

    From: Steve Mulholland

    So being a global agency. An agency which prides putting people at the heart of the business. ..

    Why are you not sticking together after yesterdays car crash?YOUR crew who put the video together must be feeling like crap right now as they have been strung out to dry.The Sapient Nitro team that worked on the video must have spent a lot of effort creating the vid but are now taking a huge kicking. Can i ask, are you saying its not on brand or are you agreeing with the feedback from the masses?