ial Media Marketing is a powerful tool, but also is hard to control. This article features a couple recent cases in which social marketing has failed or gone wrong.
The Wal-Mart case
In August 2007, Wal-Mart started its own Facebook profile, aimed on students. The goal was to stimulate the consumer behavior of students on their student rooms. After a few weeks the original goal of the ‘Wal-Mart Roommate Style Match’ was far forgotten.
Visitors of Wal-Mart’s room decoration page can leave comments; a function intended to receive praise on the decoration tool, or a few suggestions for improvement at worst. Wal-Mart did probably not expect to have their complete Facebook Wall filled with criticism on its low wages, aversion to trade unions and unhealthy competition practices.
Marketers should keep this in mind when offering customers the option to make their opinions public. You could have many satisfied customers, but when you expect a small group of ‘brand terrorists’ to vent their frustrations for the whole world to see, you might want to think twice about opening a brand page on a social network site.
One of the visitors said Wal-Mart’s biggest mistake was putting a ‘Wall’ on their profile.
Wal-Mart – The second attempt
Packed with the experience of their last campaign a new attempt on social marketing was made. Wal-Mart announced the launch of a Social Marketing Campaign by allowing users to review content on their site.
A Social network site was launched for kids on the wal-mart website named ‘The Hub’. What happened was, parents had to be informed of every new registration which isn’t very ‘cool’ for the kids, although it’s great for parents. All content got screened by third a third party, while social networks are joined to express yourself in the way you want to. Next to that there were no options to PM or mail each other. Communication possibilities are a basic requirement for a social network site.
The marketers should’ve realized that just one stage of child-protection is the best they can do to keep kids safe while building a popular social network. People need to be given control and have the ability to allow two-way conversations to flow without you being the only one talking.
The Molson photo contest
In November 2007, Molson pulled the plug on its Facebook photo contest. Molson’s online marketing campaign, in which students were encouraged to post pictures of themselves partying on campus, was “misinterpreted” as promoting irresponsible drinking.
“We need to be communicating with our consumers because that’s where our consumers are communicating among themselves. We need to make sure we’re in that relevant channel”, the company said.
Marketers have to be more subtle than Molson in trying to capture users’ attention. The risk always remains that the marketer can lose control of its brand. Molson is wading into uncharted territory and stepped over the line of acceptability with its Facebook campaign.
The 2008 Ford Focus, unfocussed?
In October 2007, online ads were seen about a man who roars, moves and behaves like a lion. ‘Fake’ news articles were found as well; “The Lion-Man Escapes From High-Security University Research Centre”.
The relation between the ‘The Lion-Man’ and the Ford Focus stayed undiscovered by the big public. The viral failed because it was too hard to figure out what it was about. It also seems to have no purpose – there’s no payoff. There are no clear call-to-action events, no ‘go out and buy this’, nothing.
A lot of wasted money that ended up in an ad that looks more like a practical joke, rather than a viral campaign. Ford’s attempt on putting up a Facebook page featuring the “Lion-Man of Tanzania” ended up having 0 subscribers.
Titleist’s fictional golfer
Titleist is a major golfing product manufacturer that created a website for a fictional golfer and promoted it offline using formats like television advertising during major golf tournaments.
Offline marketing for an online campaign can sometimes work but it’s so much easier and cheaper to get things promoted online. Although the site really isn’t that bad, there’s no call-to-action for people to share the content or any incentives for them to upload music and videos which the site hopes they will do. People seem to forget all too easily that good content just won’t go viral – great content can and sometimes will. The videos on the site are good but aren’t great.
Titleist’s marketers should have looked at ways to promote their product online via social networks where they could have gotten their video more attention and website traffic. Don’t spend big dollars on TV advertising if you don’t have a website to back it up.