Marketing Sense

A discussion of marketing tools and tactics with a common sense attitude

Posts Tagged ‘Social Media Strategy’

When A Social Media Campaign Goes Bad

Posted by Colin N. Clarke on August 25, 2010

An interesting case study has recently emerged in New Zealand that underscores the power of social media… and how it must be wielded CAREFULLY.

National Business Review (NBR) chose to leverage social media to promote its 40th Birthday via a competition of sorts. Entrants were asked to submit a brief story on how they would celebrate winning their own weight in Veuve Clicquot Champagne. The entry implied a popular vote process, and entrants jumped on board via their social networks to solicit support for their entry. A brilliant move by NBR and by Veuve Clicquot – to  motivate its audience to leverage their social networks to promote the 40th Birthday. Cheers from here for the idea!

But the story does not end so well for National Business Review (or Veuve Clicquot). After one particular entrant appeared to run away with the popular vote, NBR indicated it would take the top ten voted entries and have a judging panel choose a winner. Fair enough except… NBR did not make this clear to the entrants in advance.

What is one of the most important elements of a social media strategy? TRANSPARENCY. And this is where NBR failed.

The fallout is beginning to reach a fevered pitch in New Zealand as bloggers and mainstream media are now berating NBR for its lack of transparency. True to the nature of social media, the court of public opinion is speaking out and it’s not pretty. A few comments from blogging community:

My message to the National Business Review is that you have lost something infinitely more valuable than my subscription. You have lost both my respect and my trust. That is hard to do, and even harder to undo.”

“I cannot put up with a tawdry run competition which had the entire blogging and related Facebook communities, engaging and participating. The amping up of the competition to boost their online stats for advertisers. Then the invoking of the most pitiful of terms and conditions…”

“Quite sim­ply NBR and Veuve Clic­quot can no longer be trusted as either a source for news or as a decent lux­ury brand when they bla­tantly make up rules as they go along…”

“Who can trust the National Business Review? …it seemed that while the NBR were happy enough to lead people on with it, they were only doing so to milk as much attention and traffic to their website as possible.”

The postings continue and now a dedicated Facebook page has been created as a result of the situation, with further comments propogating throughout.

Do you suppose this was the result that NBR anticipated when it launched the campaign? NO. Could this have been avoided? YES.

NBR failed the transparency test when it built the campaign. If there is one thing we learned from the TGI Friday’s “Woody” campaign of 2009, it’s that you must set clear expectations and be able to deliver upon those expectations. It took TGI Friday’s 10 days to fix their redemption mistake, but they made good on EVERY promise… even though it cost them a few extra $$ along the way.

NBR and Veuve Clicquot opened the social media door when they created the campaign. The best move they can make now is to create extra space on the podium, include the popular vote winner and celebrate. Maybe next time they will plan their social media strategy more thoroughly, and make sure that the rule of TRANSPARENCY is heeded.

What failed social media campaigns have you experienced? How did they fail you?


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The Power of “Listening.” A Case of Timely Response.

Posted by Colin N. Clarke on December 4, 2009

The appropriate starting point in any social media strategy is to establish a managed listening program where a brand or company can monitor what is being said about them. Blogs, message boards, comments sections and the myriad of social networking tools all hold potential for word of mouth harm (and good).

In a recent post I discussed the importance of managing misinformation in the digital realm, and I’ve found a wonderful example of effective “listening” to share.

In the post AOL’s SEO “Strategery,” blogger Frank Reed makes the case for why he feels the new AOL strategy will not succeed. He refers to AOL’s intentions for unique content generation and gaining ground through search engine results. Reed recalls this type of approach as creating “craptent” and cites the company Associated Content as “the master of ‘craptent’ generation for search engine gain.”

This is where the value of a “listening” program comes to bear and a perfect case for effective listening. Associated Content President Luke Beatty reviewed the blog and commented the same day, likely within hours (or minutes?) of the post going live. Beatty’s comment appears within the first 3 comments and provides an effective clarification of the Associated Content model and respectful rebuttal to the ‘craptent’ tag. And as any blogger worth his salt should do, author Frank Reed acknowledges Beatty’s comment with a respectful tip of the hat (Read the blog article and related comments here).

The point is not whether the AOL blog article is right or wrong. This point here is that Associated Content was called out in a blog and they felt was it was a misrepresentation of their brand. Quickly and efficiently, Associated Content made their counter-argument for all the world to see – and it was done in a tactful and respectful manner.

Associated Content perfectly demonstrated the importance and value of an effective listening program and the efficiency of an organized and planned approach for response. A case of social media strategy, implemented and executed perfectly.

So, if faced with a similar situation, could your business respond the same way?

(Image: David Allison, Listening Post at Whitney Museum of Art, 2002)

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Social Media Without the Trial and T-error

Posted by Colin N. Clarke on November 23, 2009

By Colin N. Clarke

If you were to look around marketing speaker’s circuits in any given town today you will find some business sharing it’s experience in using social media. You’ll hear how social media provides some great opportunities, but comes with pitfalls to watch out for as well. Here’s how your business can take advantage of social media opportunities, without the dangers of trial and error.

Strategy BEFORE tactics – A common pitfall: A business will say, “We need a Facebook page,” or “We need to do something with Twitter.” Truth is, worry about tactics LAST not first. The tools will change over time. Two years ago there was no such thing as Twitter, three years ago, no Facebook, four years ago MySpace was a HIT, but not so much anymore. Develop a strategy FIRST. The tactics that follow will then become obvious. Read Jay Baer’s article “The 7 Steps to Creating a Social Media Strategy” for more.

Establish objectives – What do you intend to accomplish with a social media strategy? Just saying you want 500 new followers or fans isn’t enough. Go deeper and establish some clear objectives. With social media you can address many areas, but define them now so you can stay on target.

– Improve the company image as being ­_________ (professional, caring, responsive, more…)

– Increase trial/use of our products or services

– Increase customer access to information on our company / products / services

– Increase membership / participation

– Improve customer / member communication

Budget for it – There is a common misconception that social media is FREE. Well, it isn’t. Yes, access to many tactical tools are free, but effectively employing a social media strategy that yields results requires an investment. Josh Lysne’s article, “It’s a lot of things… free is not one of them,” talks about the significant investment of TIME required to appropriately deploy a social media strategy. “You need to regularly engage your audience. You need to actively monitor what is being said. You need to review, refine and rework your engagement strategies.” All of these are vitally important and all of these require TIME – so budget for it. This may mean a new full-time position (or two) simply to execute your social media strategy, so be prepared.

Follow through – In consideration of the TIME factor mentioned above, follow through can become a pitfall and challenge for many. Social media creates an environment for audiences to engage with your brand – whether you like it or not. You need to be prepared to initiate and respond. How will your business deal with a situation that suddenly goes viral like the YouTube video “United Breaks Guitars?” It can happen at any time, but if your social media strategy is thorough, you will have a listening program and a response plan in place… AND you will have someone assigned to respond appropriately and in a timely manner.

Effective social media strategy and planning can remove the fear of trial and error and replace it with a confident approach to optimizing customer engagement and relationships.


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Friday’s Facebook Campaign – Brilliance or Bust?

Posted by Colin N. Clarke on November 23, 2009

By Colin N. Clarke – Companies have been exploring different means of leveraging social media reach, but the restaurant chain TGI Friday’s took it to a new level with their recent Facebook Fan campaign for fictional spokesperson “Woody.”

What makes this campaign so impressive is how a commercial entity essentially asked for and received permission to advertise to customers on Facebook. By using a free hamburger giveaway via a cleverly executed challenge to reach 500,000 “friends” on Facebook, TGI Friday’s lured customers and potential customers into the heart of the campaign.

Once confirmed as a Facebook “friend,” TGI Friday’s provided a series of entertaining and engaging status updates, video posts and discussions. All talking about the free hamburger giveaway while effortlessly pumping up top of mind awareness for the TGI Friday’s brand.

The commercial components to the campaign are brilliant. The registration process required to become eligible for a free hamburger took registrants through a relatively detailed list of questions. So while us “friends” were gleefully sharing our information for a free burger, TGI Friday’s was building a detailed database of potential customers with information provided via registration as well approved access to our Facebook information. The level of information shared and the careful detail by which TGI Friday’s built and executed the campaign is simply brilliant. A commercial entity had successfully pierced the personal veil of social media and built a fan base of more than 950,000 “friends” in the process.

But the story does not end there, and this is where the greatest lesson of social media comes to light. When you make a promise to your friends in a public forum, you had better follow through or risk your own public humiliation.

At the time I am writing this blog we are in the heart of redemption week for TGI Friday’s free hamburgers and their nearly 1 million fans. And the redemption process is brutal. A visit to the Discussions tab on Facebook Fan page shows a myriad of angry comments from unruly fans who have been wholly turned off by the difficulty of the redemption process. And the anger doesn’t stop there. On recent fan posts the negative comments are flowing at a rate of 5-to-1 (negative to positive). It appears that the true nature of social media may have caught up with TGI Fridays – the fact that conversation happens, both good and bad.

So what lessons have we learned from this groundbreaking social media campaign?

1) Provide a reasonable reward or offer – the “fans” loved the idea of a free burger meal.

2) Be entertaining – the Woody campaign is clever, fun, engaging and ran across multiple media.

3) Build excitement– the “challenge” to reach 500,000 fans built camaraderie and encouragement.

4) Encourage conversation– each new Facebook post lead fans to engagement and conversation.

5) FULFILL YOUR PROMISE – follow through and have friends for life, fail expectations and ???

It remains to be seen how TGI Friday’s will manage their reward redemption nightmare. So far on Facebook, it’s looking pretty ugly. Lots of comments of people feeling used, betrayed and planning to boycott the restaurant now. And fans have now started their own Woody Complaints Facebook page. Not what TGI Friday’s intended when they started the campaign. BUT… with all things social, Friday’s can still engage positively in the conversation and make things right with their 1 million new “friends.” It will be interesting to see how this campaign comes to a close.

So, did you get your burger?

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