Social Media Marketing Mishaps

by Jerry Hobby on March 13, 2012

Social Media Marketing Mishaps

Have you started your social media marketing yet?  Many large companies have been launching social media experiments and some are “epic fails”.   To understand these stories, you need to understand one detail.  In Twitter, hashtags are used to define keywords for search.  If you put the keyword #houston in your twitter message, then anyone searching for #houston can follow those messages even if they don’t follow that user.  Following hashtag keywords is extremely popular.  Try searching twitter for a hashtag keyword when a major event or TV show is on and you’ll see that it’s very fast and with hundreds of community messages flying by.  Now, on to the epic fails.

McDonalds launched a twitter campaign based on the hashtag #McDStories.  They hoped people would share good stories, but instead, people shared complaints.  Lots of them!  Epic fail!

Kenneth Cole got creative and attached a marketing message to a major world event hoping to attract attention.  They posted on twitter, “Millions in uproar in #Cairo. Rumor is they heard our new spring collection is now available.”   Bad form and major backlash.   Epic fail!

Australia’s Quantas Airlines asked consumers for descriptions of fantasy vacations to be posted via twitter.  Twitter users flipped it and posted humorous responses such as, “Choose Singapore Air Luxury instead.”

These are reported failures that are blogged about all over the internet.  It shows that there are great risks involved in social media marketing.  You cannot control what other people will say in response to your campaign and the “stuff” can hit the fan quite unexpectedly.

Back to the #hashtag conversation.   #hashtags are keywords that you hope people will search for and track.  This allows anyone to post and read what anyone posts.  It is a public discussion tracked by this #hashtag.  No one controls these things.  When it comes to creating new #hashtags, it makes no sense to make up a #hashtag that people won’t search for.   People will search for #thegrammys or #eltonjohn or #astros.  But not necessarily for your custom #hashtag unless you promote it somehow.  Kenneth Cole was an opportunist by choosing an active #hashtag.  McDonalds and others have created custom #hashtags and promoted them on TV or elsewhere.

Another epic fail is from Tampax Tampons.  (Yes, I’m a dude blogging about tampons.  It’s okay because I’m wearing a pink shirt, ok?).  Seriously though, Tampax has a new commercial and they ask you to share your tampon stories by tweeting with #tampaxforreal.   Are you serious?   Really??   Do you actually expect women to flock to twitter to tweet about tampons?   Where’s your brain?!

In an effort to give them a fair report, I went to twitter and searched for #tampaxforreal to see if anyone at all embraced this campaign.   There was exactly ONE tweet.  It was from a guy, not a girl.  Here it is:  “Tweeting #TamPaxforReal because a tampon commercial told me to.”  Epic fail!

Recently I was in a meeting with a few staff members from my church discussing the possibilities of having a social media presence for the church.  It’s a really good idea from the sense the church has a school with alumni plus it will allow us to reach out to our community in a non-intrusive way.   But the church staff objected to the idea because they were worried someone might say something somewhere that  caused a problem.  I wasn’t sure at first what could really go wrong.  After all, you can monitor and edit posts on Facebook so administering this is quite simple.  But given the twitter fails from above, I can certainly understand their fear.

To put it all into proper perspective, it is essential that if you launch a public social campaign, you have to be prepared for the possibility that something will go wrong.  Twitter does not have a structure to allow you to edit anything.  It’s an unmanaged public list of comments and whatever happens happens.   Facebook and other networks allow you to define a group and moderate it.  Use the right tools and you won’t have any issues maintaining it.    Not everyone knows what to do or how to do it.  There are plenty of people out there that decline to use social media simply out of not understanding it.   This is where we come in.  We understand this stuff.   Most companies and organizations will benefit greatly from social media.  At Anything Internet, we know what to do, how to do it, and how to keep you out of trouble with it.

Want a social media campaign and don’t want to be the next epic fail?  Call us.


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