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Social media success is easy for brands when their products are beloved by their fans. Brands like Cadbury, a venerated English candy-maker, can usually post and share just about anything, knowing their legions of fans are going to engage with them, usually in an incredibly positive way. The problem with having a beloved brand or products, however, is that it can be easy for your most passionate fans and brand advocates to turn on you if you make a change to your product line that upsets them.

Cadbury found themselves in this exact situation when they announced that they were changing the recipe for their Cadbury Creme Eggs and reducing the number Creme Eggs in a package from 6 to 5. Cadbury claimed the change was due to an increase in costs associated with dairy products. Instead of increasing the cost of Cadbury Creme Eggs, they reduced the number of eggs in a pack and cut back on expensive dairy-based ingredients.

Their fans cried foul and they took to social media to do so.

The Social Storm

Head over to Cadbury UK’s Facebook Page. Check out any post that Cadbury has put up recently. Read the comments. Nearly all of them, no matter the post, are angry diatribes decrying the company and their American owners (Hershey) for changing a beloved product. If you’re a community manager, you might say that situations like this blow over after awhile, and you just need to be patient, but this news was announced weeks ago and Cadbury’s social media accounts are still a firestorm of formerly fanatical fans spewing pure bile about the product they love.

What Does it All Mean?

Well, first off, don’t tick off your hardcore fans. Cadbury’s decision to change the recipe for their product reflected a fundamental misunderstanding of what matters to their fans. Cadbury Creme Egg fanatics would probably have paid a little more for the product rather than see the recipe changed. Also, for social media marketers, it’s important to understand that the decisions that corner-office types make in the real world will be reflected in the digital one. That is to say, social media gives brand followers 24/7 access to brands and if you make a decision that you know will make people angry, you better have a solid customer service plan in place on social or you will reap the whirlwind, as they say.

Could Cadbury Have Done Anything Differently?

Yes, absolutely. They could’ve listened to their fans. Unfortunately, unless Cadbury decides to reverse course, their Facebook page will probably continue to be ground zero for their fans’ vitriol. Will this rage abate? Probably, but not as quickly as Cadbury would probably like and in the meantime, the candy giant will see this anger reflected not just on social media, but on their bottom line as well.