There has been a lot of recent press on the positive implications associated with social media. We strongly believe that when planned properly it can improve brand recognition, strengthen customer relationships and help you reach your marketing goals. But, it’s important to realize, if so many great things are coming from social media, there has to be some examples of things gone wrong. Here are a couple examples of what we believe to be some of the biggest mishaps in social media thus far.
1.) Baja Fresh, a casual dining Mexican grill based out of the US offered its Facebook fans a “free burrito” coupon downloadable right off their fanpage. Apparently without actually needing to become a fan, just about anyone was able to access the coupon. The lesson learned: Think “social media strategy”, not “social media implementation”. This is a clear case of a company diving right into social networking without planning out their course of action first. The result: over 50,000 people across the country coming into restaurants to redeem their free burrito.
Baja Fresh had to issue apologies on their Facebook page for not being able to honour some coupons. Had they not done this, it’s unlikely their fans would have been so accommodating.
2.) For promotion of Electronic Arts’ video game release Dante’s Inferno, a social media contest was created called “Sin to Win”, where participants were asked to submit photographs of themselves committing an “act of lust” on the scantily clad booth girls at a San Diego Comic-Con gathering. The result: EA alienated their female gamers, received negative press all over the world, and was called names like sexist, misogynist, and exploitive all over the net. The lesson learned: While making an attempt to focus on their target market, they shouldn’t have excluded their secondary and tertiary ones all together. Who’s to say female and gay gamers didn’t want their own copy of Daunte’s Inferno. To put the cherry on top, EA attempted to try and save this campaign by “randomly” selecting an openly gay gamer as their award recipient. Here’s what that gamer had to say.
3.) Finally, one of our favorite examples of a social media campaign gone wrong is T.G.I. Friday’s creation of “Woody”, a man who represents the face of the restaurant on Facebook, Twitter and blogs.
The restaurant chain launched a summer Facebook campaign stating, ” the first 500,000 fans of Woody will be able to redeem a free burger at the nearest T.G.I. Friday’s”. At first, this campaign was overwhelmingly positive, with over one million fans accounted for on Facebook. What the company didn’t plan for, was the logistics of sending out over a million “free burger” coupons to their so-called loyal fans. Soon enough, good publicity turned into outrage, and people showed up at physical restaurants demanding their free burger. At the same time, comments poured in all over Woody’s fanpage dismissing this contest and T.G.I. Friday’s entirely. The result: thousands of unhappy Facebook fans who never did receive their email-coupon, and a ton of bad publicity. The lesson learned: Don’t promise anything you can’t deliver. Nothing is more transparent then the world of social media, in which case companies have to be particularly careful about what they say and promise to the consumer.
We recently checked up on the Woody fanpage and it looks like he is still receiving some hateful backlash through Facebook commentary, check it out.
Anyways, the point of this blog post… Plan carefully, be strategic, and you’ll see the results.