Ok, I know I just spouted off at length about productivity as it relates to Tim Ferriss in my last entry. So today, I’m going to switch gears for a Memorial Day skewering of prime social media marketing shish kebob meat. Risk is fundamental to the growth of a brand. I won’t twist the knife for long by reminding us all of these past trespasses. Let’s use these examples as milestones, and let’s not forget how easy it is to mean one thing, and say another.
How it went: As referenced in this social media marketing fail list from Inc Magazine, IHOP failed big time last October. Their Twitter account ran a photo of flapjacks with a reference to flat-chested women, hoping that people would laugh not scream. Their attempt capsized when the copy over their photo of flapjacks was noticeably demeaning. They did not win that round, and the press about the brand wasn’t encouraging.
How it could have gone better: What ended in ridicule likely started in simple market-baiting. It’s a classic move to use the preferred language of your target market. Including references, slang, and other elements of “inside jokes.” There are a number of moves IHOP could make in that direction to convey “I get you,” without risking perceived misogyny. Find a way to frame your copy in a way that includes more than it exclude. Also, be ready to handle objections to what your exclusion is based on. Trial and error can be a very costly game.
How it went: In 2013, eye-opening publicity about marine life and mistreatment arose. In turn, amusement park titan SeaWorld responds with a hashtag campaign to presumably handle any customer service matters (in the form of objection and feedback). That campaign, under the moniker #AskSeaWorld, gave an avenue for the suitably concerned to issue their grievances. The problem? The campaign became an open invitation for animal rights advocates to say whatever they want to (especially the bad PR stuff). All the bad press on SeaWorld and its affiliates became directly associated with the brand.
How it could have gone better: Instead of SeaWorld attempting to stymie the bad rap it was receiving in the news and initiate a new hashtag campaign. They could have taken the Target approach, which touts such a high level of social media customer service that it has spawned copycat trolls. SeaWorld could have gotten genuinely interested in the cases being made against them (from a customer service standpoint). The required follow-through from those responses would likely capsize the company anyway.
How it went: In 2014, in the midst of a domestic violence awareness campaign designated by the hashtag #WhyIStayed, DiGiorno attempted to use the hashtag in their favor. This resulted in an outcry against the company for their perceived insensitivity. DiGiorno did reach out both broadly and directly to their audience in apology in record time. However, the fallout from a blunder often outlasts the news cycle in which it emerges.
How It could have gone better: The social media marketing decision-maker at DiGiorno quickly realized his mistake. In less than 90 minutes the issue was addressed. That is 90 minutes shy of not being an issue at all. Trending topics and tags are a fast route to visibility. However, it would have been valuable to just ask “why?” before just jumping in. It’s valuable to note – some hashtags are just never meant to be associated with your brand.
Social media is a bed of kindling. Start to get interested in whether or not you are holding a lit match. Social media is certainly potent, and as such deserves some healthy respect. Familiarize yourself with the context for a hashtag campaign, not just its popularity. Social media marketing is a long game, with a litany of micro-successes. Keep that kind of success in mind when researching trends to affiliate with.
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