Social Media Marketing: 13 Ways to Be Unlucky

What To Do When Social Media Backfires

Social media marketing-13 ways to be unlucky on Friday the 13th Social media brings every marketer’s worse fears to the fore, especially on Friday the Thirteenth. It’s no surprise since social media provides every consumer with their own personal megaphone with which to let others know about a brand or organization’s smallest flaws.

Here are thirteen ways that your organization, product or brand can be unlucky, either intentionally or unintentionally through the use of social media.

  1. Are unliked by lots of followers on your Facebook page. While this can happen for a variety of reasons, the top reason followers unfriend companies is that they only joined to receive a special promotion and leave after receiving it.
  2. Receive only spam comments. Showings no one cares about your social media outpost, this can happen when you haven’t promoted your social media presence or when no one’s interested in it. On a blog, it can happen when you haven’t posted in a while or don’t have a social media tribe. (Here’s how to get massive comments.)
  3. Get lots of negative mentions on social media.  This isn’t subtle. Your prospects, customers and the public believe you’re doing something wrong or illegal. Before aimlessly responding, examine what people are saying and why they’re upset. Once you understand the issue, show you’ve listened and fix it. Cook Source faced this problem on their Facebook page after their editor plagiarized a blogger’s content. Instead of admitting the wrongdoing, the editor fought back eventually causing the magazine to fold.
  4. Argue with customers about their complaints. Understand you’ll never win by trying to out shout a customer. Where appropriate, respond concisely on the platform where the complaint was voiced and if possible reach out privately to the customer to make good. Use this opportunity to show you’re responsive to your customers.
  5. Have video about your firm go viral for the wrong reasons. Videos of Dominos employees adding personal ingredients to pizza went viral. To Domino’s credit, senior management took this incident seriously and tried to respond via the same social media channels. (Here’s Pete Blackshaw’s commentary and the ReadWriteWeb’s analysis.)
  6. Find employee’s personal communications bulges on social media. When this happens, you’ve got a (Anthony) Weiner moment. To mitigate the problem, the guilty party should admit wrong doing as soon as possible. Take a lesson from the Congressman and stay away from all inappropriate media involvement, social and otherwise.
  7. Get the spotlight for a rogue employee. Think JetBlue’s Steve Slater’s emergency exit. In most cases, this is beyond an organization’s control. It can happen without social media. In a social media world, an employee like Steve Slater can attract a large audience in a short period of time. With a number of legal and regulatory organizations involved, JetBlue was limited in its ability to respond.
  8. Ignite an Etch-A-Sketch meme with a company comment. Mitt Romney’s campaign adviser Eric Fehrnstrom commented, “Well, I think you hit a reset button for the fall campaign. Everything changes. It’s almost like an Etch-A-Sketch. You can kind of shake it up and restart all over again.” While bad news for the Romney campaign, it was good for Etch-A-Sketch sales.
  9. Unintentionally caught on film. With expanded use and platforms for photographs and videos, this is likely to become a more common problem. Without being the central focus of a photograph or video, someone is snapped where they shouldn’t be or giving the wrong impression. Sarah Palin’s video pardoning the Thanksgiving turkey with others being slaughtered in the background was more than unfortunate.
  10. Watch your hashtag get hijacked for another purpose.  A prime example was McDonald’s whose Twitter campaign used the hashtags #McDStories and #MeetTheFarmers with promoted tweets. After using #McDStories, twice, McDonalds realized it was being trashed by people upset with the firm and their food quality and stopped using the hashtag. While McDonlad’s reacted quickly, people continued using the hashtag.
  11. Outdone by a social media spoof on your marketing. By providing an array of social media tools and platforms, consumers can create content that’s equal to or better than your agency’s. A prime example was the spoof on BP’s Twitter account. By contrast, Cisco’s spoof on the Old Spice Guy videos with Ted from Accounting was a #FAIL.
  12. Pull a bait and switch on social media influencers. Did you really think people on social media are stupid? ConAgra did by getting food bloggers to attend a special chef’s dinner at a restaurant only to serve them Marie Callendar’s frozen food. (Read the results for yourself.) Understand that the public collectively is as smart or smarter than you. Don’t try to pull a fast one since the likelihood is it’ll backfire.
  13. Take the ostrich approach to social media. Assuming that if you ignore the signs of a social media firestorm, it will go away is asking for trouble. In most cases, by the time you realize you’ve got a social media problem, it’s too late to keep it contained. Better to be prepared to respond.

Social media’s challenge for marketers continues to be the potential for an issue or a consumer complaint to gather a broad audience quickly. Regardless of how involved in social media your organization is, problems will pop up. To ensure you’re ready to react, have social media guidelines, a PR crisis plan and social media monitoring in place.

What other ways can a marketer be unlucky with social media?

Happy marketing,
Heidi Cohen

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