Now that we are safely in the New Year we can look back at some of the gaffe’s and blunders that made the news last year. Social media established itself as a professional tool that was widely adopted by large and small businesses as a critical part of the formal marketing mix. As business begins to embrace the potential of social marketing and experiment with its use as a tool, there will naturally be great successes and some fairly spectacular failures which offer some valuable lessons as we set our goals and strategic planning for 2013.
We take aim at the American National Rifle Association (NRA) and the large social media debacle that took place on July 20, 2012. There had been a tragic gun incident in Aurora Colorado involving sixty victims due to a gunman. A mere three hours after the shooting the social media manager for the NRA Twitter account posted: “Good morning, shooters! Happy Friday! Weekend plans?” Needless to say the organisation took a large shot to its reputation with the social outcry and public relations fallout that ensued.
Social Media Lesson: Be aware of what is going on locally, nationally and internationally on the news as it may impact your content and sharing for the day.
We question the purpose of a secret identity if it isn’t secret at all. For instance the curious case of the Chik-fil-A incident where the American fast food chain faced a maelstrom of negative feedback after Jim Henson’s Muppet figures would no longer be offered at the restaurant. Instead of addressing the negative comments professionally and using a public relations approach, the restaurant allegedly created fictitious Facebook accounts (and one Abbey Farle in particular) to advocate on behalf of the Brand in comments.vShortly thereafter someone recognised the picture of Ms. Farle as a popular stock image and called foul. The mysterious Abbey Farle and her profile disappeared shortly after.
With that and other public relations issues, Chik-fil-A remains an ongoing case study on “what not to do” when it comes to successfully building community around your brand.
Social Media Lesson: Address negative comments from your audience professionally and directly. You may choose not to reply to all comments, but do address your customers accordingly. And never use dishonesty or fake accounts to moderate issues.
We have heard of a “fire sale” but a hurricane sale? That’s exactly what the US division of American Apparel launched with a promotion conceived in bad taste. Typically American Apparel is not the type of organisation that gets it wrong when it comes to ecommerce, and they are brilliant marketers. Unfortunately they chose to offer an email promotion that stated ““In case you’re bored during the storm, 20% off everything for next 36 hours.” The promotion was only offered to residents in the areas of the Eastern United States which were preparing for Hurricane Sandy, and they even dubbed it their “Sandy Sale”. American Apparel sustained its own social storm and collateral damage due to that error in judgment.
Social Media Lesson: Using a natural disaster to promote sales will provide a huge response from your online audience. Unfortunately it will be a negative one.
McDonald’s proved to also be a victim to bad judgment and launched a campaign in Twitter urging customers to share their stories of eating in the restaurant. They had hoped that childhood memories of “the first hamburger” or other such sentimentalities would be shared, creating a positive vibe and strengthening brand loyalty. Unfortunately what ensued was a flood of negative Twitter engagement and posts about “feeling ill” and “soaring cholesterol “ and users professing to avoid the fast food chain for years and making healthier choices. The hash tag #McDStories remains quite an interesting read.
Social Media Lesson: Don’t ask for the opinion of your customers if you don’t want to hear the honest truth.
Now what did his Grandmother have to do with it? That was the question many people were asking when popular brand KitchenAid committed their gaffe on Twitter right in the midst of the American presidential election. The social media manager for the Twitter account posted “Obamas gma even knew it was going 2 b bad! ‘She died 3 days b4 he became president.” The organisation commented to Mashable that the staffer would no longer be updating social media for the company and extended its heartfelt apology to President Obama for the insensitive statement.
Social Media Lesson: Keep personal feelings and politics out of professional social media.
What is important to remember is that while social media has the ability to support your digital marketing, grow audience and create brand ambassadors for your products and services, it also has the potential to do some significant damage to both your online influence and your offline reputation. Communication through social media should warrant the same review and professionalism as all other types of external broadcast mediums. Since negative incidents have an even greater opportunity to go viral, it’s far better to err on the side of caution rather than have to clean up a public relations issue.
Are you ready to get serious about your social media and content planning? Generate UK is an award winning digital marketing agency with a track record of excellence in design, performance and ecommerce. Find out what our team can do for your business with a multiple tiered digital marketing and communications strategy.
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Hello, thanks for visiting our blog. I spend far too much time online, messing around with Twitter, LinkedIn, Empire Avenue and pretty much any other platform that takes my attention. My role is to work with our customers to ensure they have a joined up objective based digital marketing strategy… No digital marketing strategy? Let’s talk…
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Hello, thanks for visiting our blog. I spend far too much time online, messing around with Twitter, LinkedIn, Empire Avenue and pretty much any other platform that takes my attention. My role is to work with our customers to ensure they have a joined up objective based digital marketing strategy... No digital marketing strategy? Let's talk...