Social media: The good, the bad and the ugly

For a bit of fun I thought I would look at corporate/brand social media successes and blunders.

Let’s take Waitrose as an example. The food retailer invited Twitter users to finish the following sentence ‘I shop at Waitrose because…….’ using the hastag, #WaitroseReasons. Whilst there were some honest tweets, some took the opportunity to poke fun at the brands ‘middle class’ image with replies such as:

  • I shop at Waitrose because the butler’s on holiday
  • I shop at Waitrose because I once heard a 6yr old boy in the shop say “Daddy does Lego have a ‘t’ at the end, like Merlot?”
  • I shop at Waitrose because it makes me feel important and I absolutely detest being surrounded by poor people.

Waitrose were slow to respond to the ‘funny’ tweets. Eventually they did tweet “Thanks for all the genuine and funny #WaitroseReasons tweets. We always like to hear what you think and enjoyed reading most of them.”  The shy response from Waitrose indicates that the company hadn’t foreseen the potential backlash when they put the first tweet out.

Even charities can make the odd social media blunder; an American Red Cross employee accidently sent a personal tweet from the corporate account. The employee accidently tweeted that they intended to get drunk using the hashtag #gettingslizzerd.

Rather than merely deleting the tweet, the Red Cross came back with this inspired response:

“We’ve deleted the rogue tweet but rest assured the Red Cross is sober and we’ve confiscated the keys.”

The Red Cross then went on to address the tweet on their blog, explaining that they are a 130 year old humanitarian organisation; we’re also made up of human beings. The charities followers showed a positive response and some even pledged donations whilst using the hashtag #gettingslizzerd to show their support.

We’ve all asked to speak to a customer services advisor’s manager. But imagine if the CEO addressed your concerns directly? That’s exactly what happened to Mark Nei when he took to twitter to complain about Vodacom (South African Telecommunications Company), when the networks service went down.

Rather than a standard response from the company’s twitter account, Pieter Uys (CEO) took to his personal twitter account to reply.

And this is my favourite example of how a brand can use social media to address customer service issues.

Back in July O2 experienced something of a crisis; a lot of O2’s customers couldn’t use their mobile phones to make calls. As expected the irate customers took to twitter in order to vent their frustrations with the telecoms provider, some in a particularly rude manor.

Below are some of the ‘tamer’ tweets that they had to deal with. You can see from these tweets that the person in charge of the Twitter account that day took a humoured approach to their responses.

Not all companies are as sucessful as the examples above when it comes to addressing their customers grievences via social media. So I have handpicked some of the bad and quite frankly ugly responses.

First up it has to be Chrysler, Similar to the American Red Cross blunder the account manager accidently sent a tweet from the Chrysler account which was intended to come from his personal account.

I think it’s important to mention that the twitter account was outsourced to an agency. Chrysler came under futher scruitinity for their inablitlity to make light of the situation and an attempted cover up of the situation.

Chrysler decided to delete the tweet and claimed their account had been comprimised. Eventually they did ‘fess up on their blog and admitted that the comment had come from an employee at their social media agency. Needless to say the contract between Chrysler and the agency was terminated.

The next attempt at social suicide comes from a BBQ restaurant. This time it was the manager that took to twitter and Facebook to relive his frustrations over a particular diner.

Not only did he use inappropriate language and left abusive comments but in addition uploaded a photo of the customer in question. There is a complicate back story here. According to the manager the customer did not leave a tip. However the customer insists she did tip the staff and the abuse was down to a previous unfavourable review she left about the restaurant.

The restaurant did remove the posts, but as with anything online it was too late the comments had already been shared and captured.

Now for the pièce de résistance, Kenneth Cole (a fashion retailer) tweeted a particularly insensitive message at a particularly inappropriate time.  In order to celebrate their new spring collection they posted the following tweet.

As most of us would anticipate, a tweet like this caused outrage across the internet. It was even given its own hashtag #KennethColetweets. An hour after Kenneth Cole sent the tweet they followed it up with:

They then went onto apologise on their Facebook page, unfortunately the damage had already been done.  The information was shared across the internet and Kenneth Cole watched their reputation go up in flames right before them.

Social media accounts are run by actual people, so on occasions accidents will happen. What can we learn from these examples?

  • Recovery of such occasions is important
  • Triple check which account you are using
  • Don’t say anything you wouldn’t say to your boss/customers
  • World ‘issues’ aren’t amusing

What’s your favourite social media blunder? Please feel free to leave a comment below, email me jodi.stuart@realradio.co.uk or tweet me @realradiojodi

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Cunning stunts – The power of ambush marketing

I recently read a short article about how Skinny Vines pranked soft drinks company Innocent in a publicity stunt. The new company, a low calorie wine maker, hung a banner that said ‘Forget the juice… drink wine’ from Innocent’s head office in London. It’s a great example of a nascent branch of marketing that already has some really serious players. The first company that jumps to the forefront of my mind is Paddy Power.

Whether you agree with Paddy Power’s ethics or not, they are without a doubt successful pranksters.  As soon as their adverts are uploaded onto YouTube they go viral, they aren’t scared to step on other peoples/brands toes (which in turn creates endless press coverage).  In 2010 they also took the crown for creating the most complained about advert of the year.

It’s often the case that the publicity their adverts create is valued at more than the cost of the campaign itself.

Most of us will be familiar with some of their marketing stunts, but let’s have a look at some of their most controversial adverts over the last few years.

The Last Supper Billboards – Dublin: 2005

They created billboards with a mocked up image of Leonardo da Vinci’s famous painting of the Last Supper. Paddy Power poked fun at Jesus and his apostles, the image showed them gambling with poker chips, playing cards and roulette. The slogan read “There’s a place for fun and games”. The advertising authority received more than 100 hundred complaints and ordered Paddy Power to remove the poster. The ASA said that the advert breached multiple guidelines referring to taste and decency as well as religion. Paddy Power did as they were asked and removed the posters …….. but replaced them with a new caption “There’s a place for fun and games. Apparently this isn’t it”. Even though Paddy Power had to remove their initial adverts, they did receive a huge amount of publicity both in Ireland and abroad.

Ryder Cup Hollywood Sign – Celtic Manor, Newport: 2010

They had already pulled this stunt a few months before at Cheltenham Races. They erected a 270ft long and 50ft high sign similar to that found in Hollywood, on Cleeve Hill above the racecourse. They decided to dust off the Hollywood sign and resurrect it. This time they hired land from a farmer in South Wales, and up the sign went. They didn’t rent any old field; this field overlooked the Ryder Cup course at the Celtic Manor. After a bit of a scuffle, eventually Cardiff County Council did order the company to dismantle the sign. Paddy Power came out on top again with the amount of publicity this ambush generated. Unfortunately Terry Matthews (owner of the Celtic Manor) added to their publicity by branding them ‘scum’ on national TV. However, we may have seen the back of the Hollywood sign, rumour has it that they managed to lose the sign after taking it down!

Blind Footballer Kicking a Cat TV Advert – 2010

The piece de resistance (aka the most complained about advert of 2010). The advert was run on TV and insinuated that a blind footballer kicked a cat into a tree (only insinuated because they didn’t show
the footballer kicking the moggy). Complaints flooded the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) office; in total they received 1313 complaints. This not only made it the most complained about advert of 2010, but also put it into 3rd place for the most complained about UK advert at that time. The public claimed that the advert was disrespectful to blind people and may encourage animal cruelty. ASA decided not to uphold the complaints as they felt they were light hearted and surreal.

Imogen Thomas Newspaper Adverts – 2011

This time they enlisted the help of former Big Brother contestant Imogen Thomas. The advert was created to promote its offer to refund all losing bets on Manchester United in the Champions League Final. At the time the claims of Imogen and Ryan Giggs having an affair were flying around. The first advert circulated included the slogan “Imogen can’t keep quiet about this”. They then took it one step too far for some; the next advert showed Imogen blowing into a whistle with the caption “Blow me!” A number of newspapers rejected the wording and pulled the adverts from running.

Stallions or Mares TV Advert – Cheltenham Races Ladies Day: 2012

A particularly controversial advert! The commercial showed transgendered ladies amongst a crowd of racing spectators at the Cheltenham Festival. The voiceover was guessing their gender ‘stallions or mares’. The ASA received 421 complaints and banned the ads. Yet again Paddy Power came out unscathed, they uploaded the advert onto YouTube and was viewed over 600,000 times.

Tranquilise the Chavs TV and YouTube Campaign – Cheltenham Festival: 2012

Cheltenham Festival was targeted again, this time the advert showed a hitman running round the ground tranquilizing stereotypical chavs. The idea came from a fans Facebook comment “Hope the chavs don’t ruin Cheltenham like they did Ascot” (after a drunken brawl broke out in Ascot the previous year). The advert was banned from airing on TV only 4 days into the campaign. It’s still available on YouTube and has clocked up 1,440,016 views.

Bendtner’s Lucky Paddy Pants – 2012

Earlier this year they signed up Danish footballer, Nicklas Bendtner. Bendtner was playing against Portugal when he adjusted his ‘kit’ and revealed his lucky Paddy Power pants. UEFA didn’t let Bendtner off lightly, he received a one match ban and around an £80,000 fine. Needless to say Paddy Power picked up the UEFA bill.

Egg & Spoon Race Billboard – 2012

Paddy Power couldn’t contain their excitement for the London Olympics. They ran the following billboard campaign at three stations in London.

At first Olympic organisers demanded that the billboards were removed. Paddy Power disagreed that the advert violated Locog’s marketing rules; eventually Locog withdrew the request to remove the adverts.

If that’s not enough examples of Paddy Power’s marketing then you might want to check out some of their other controversial campaigns.

  • Cheltenham Racecourse Hollywood Sign
  • Paddy Power Vuvuzela Truck
  • Uffington Horse
  • Paddy Power Takeaway

What’s your favourite Paddy Power marketing campaign? Or can you think of any other companies that have pulled a marketing stunt or prank? Please leave a comment below, email me jodi.stuart@realradio.co.uk or tweet me @realradiojodi

The Facebook Advertising Debate

Facebook advertising is a controversial topic; it seems to generate rather passionate opinions. The big question is, does Facebook advertising work? Like a lot of things, I think the answer is heavily based on individual opinions and expectations.

So here are two imaginary characters that are going to duke it out for us. ‘Derek’ (D) is for FB advertising. ‘Gail’ (G) doesn’t think FB advertising is the best platform to invest in.

I’ll get the debate started…….

Do you think FB advertising works?

D: Yes, if it didn’t why would companies of all sizes continue to use it?

G: No and several large companies have pulled their FB advertising accounts. One that springs to mind is the $10 million General Motors account.

D: Well, at the time GM was emerging from a bailout crisis, they needed to cut costs in order to protect their balance sheet.  The company was reportedly targeted to reduce their marketing expenditure by $2 billion over the next five years. They did what any commercially savvy company would do, worked out what advertising worked best and cut out what wasn’t as successful. Mary Henige, GM’s Director of Social Media tweeted “We have more than 8mil friends on FB; not leaving them; engagement & content isn’t the same thing as advertising.”

G: Quote “cut out what wasn’t as successful.” Do I need to say anymore?

D: FB is a rich pool of data, I’d say pretty accurate too considering users update their profiles as they progress through the different stages of life. It’s also the largest single online community reaching millions of people around the world.

G: Yes FB is the largest single social network platform, it reaches 51% of all internet users but that’s nothing in comparison to Google’s Display Network reaching 90% of all internet users. The information may be valuable; however FB was never designed to be a marketing platform but a communication tool. An apple will always be an apple. Oh and I forgot to mention you can’t reach them through their mobiles!

D: The information available on FB can’t be replicated in the same quantity from any other single media platform; this data is valuable to marketers. It’s not necessarily about the mass reach but more so the targeting options available. Now you can target your ad’s based on demographics such as gender, marital status, geo-graphical area, interests etc…. the list is almost endless.

G: Blah Blah…. You mention the reach and targeting options, which all becomes insignificant when you take into consideration the click through rate. FB don’t actually publish the CTR (I wonder why), but I have come across independent analysis from Webtrends. They looked at over 11,000 FB campaigns and established the average CTR in 2010 was 0.051%. Let’s say a campaign targeted 80,000 impressions, using the average CTR around 40 people would click on the ad. That’s just clicking not buying; yes the conversion to sale will vary from business to business.

D: What do you think to these figures then? In 2011 Facebook made $3.7 billion and 85% of that was from advertising revenue. If it doesn’t work then how are they generating these sorts of revenue figures?

G: Have you seen the FB Q1 2012 revenues? Their earnings fell in the first quarter of 2012; they were 6.5% lower than in the fourth quarter of 2011 and profit was down 32% from the end of 2011. So whilst they have done well in the past, 2012 looks set to be a shaky year for them.

Back to me now!

This debate could have kept going on forever

And it’s not all about Facebook ad’s, they are now testing a new format that will see brands’ page posts appear in users news feeds regardless if they are a fan of their page or not. It’s not the same as the current sponsored stories which require a user’s friend to like the page before the sponsored story is displayed. The sponsored ads appear on both desktop and mobile news feeds, I wonder if users will deem this as socially acceptable.

Using Facebook adverts can be cheap, that’s not the same as cost effective. Because you can stipulate if you want to pay per click or by the number of impressions, it’s could be worth seeing if it is something that would work for your business. There are alternatives out there that warrant further investigation. Check out this infographic, it compares the value of the world’s biggest online display advertising networks: Facebook vs. Google Display Network.

As always please leave a comment below. I don’t doubt that I have missed points from both perspectives so please feel free to weigh in!

Email me Jodi.stuart@realradio.co.uk or tweet me @realradiojodi

Social Media – It’s not about the size of your boat, it’s how you row it!

Disclaimer: I’m not a social media expert (well not yet, but I’m working on it!)

When I was asked if I wanted to turn the reports and presentations I was writing into a blog format, I jumped at the chance. Other than Facebook I had no experience of social media, so I started spending a lot of time on Google to learn about the subject. Having learned lots I want to run through some of the things I picked up, not from an ‘experts’ perspective but as someone who has put ‘social media’ into practise.

Should I adopt a social media strategy? Well do you have customers? Of course you do otherwise you wouldn’t have a business/job. Social media is a form of communicating with your clients in a more personal way, it’s on their terms and they choose whether to engage with you or not. In my opinion, it doesn’t matter if you work/own a small or large company; every business should have a social media presence to communicate with existing and prospective customers.

Content is a huge topic with many different aspects to consider, it really deserves a separate blog to cover it. As there are so many good blogs out there that cover content, I’ll keep my thoughts brief and talk only about blogs and micro blogs.

Not posting content would be like picking up an incoming call and not saying anything, the person on the end would hang up and probably seek out your competitors. Recently I have spoken to a few people about digital content; the biggest issues seem to be….

  • What would I write about?
  • Why would people be interested in what I have to say?

So here are some simple ideas for content

  • Think about conversations you have with customers and suppliers.
  • Do they ask for advice or questions?
  • So many of my blogs have started from a conversation or question, even this blog was initiated from a chat.
  • The internet makes it easy to research products online, think about the last time you brought a car; I bet you checked out the performance, economy and safety features etc online before parting with your cash.
  • Write product reviews, testimonials or even case studies of the good, the bad and the ugly.
  • If your ideas come from your customers then I bet other people will be interested too.

The next step is to decide which social media platforms to use. This will depend on your business and whether you are targeting B2B or B2C.

The are three main platforms to consider:

(Yes there are endless platforms to choose from, but I’m looking at what I consider to be the three most popular sites)

  • Facebook,
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter

I chose to go with Twitter and Linkedin simply because this is where my audience ‘hang out’. If you deal with businesses then you definitely need to be on Linkedin and Twitter, if you target consumers then Facebook is without question the platform for you.

At this point I bet many of you are thinking that you don’t have the time to invest in maintaining multiple platforms, thinking about and writing content in addition to your day to day job. Don’t worry; there are a number of good social media management platforms available such as Hootsuite and Social Bro to name a few. These sites allow you to keep an eye on your chosen social media platforms, so you don’t need to keep logging into your different social sites and you can view comments, reply to posts and messages. Another benefit of using a management suite is the function to schedule your posts/tweets, this ensures that your posts are consistent and you can manage your time effectively.

The next step is to build a ‘tribe’, whether it is through Facebook, Linkedin or Twitter, there is no point in creating or curating fantastic content if no-one reads it. It was something I struggled with at first, but here are some great ways to build an audience.

  • Join in with conversations around you; if you can contribute to a discussion then others will want to know more about you.
  • Find a brand advocate for your company, preferably a customer (your mum won’t have the same impact!) and connect with them.
  • Depending on the field you are in, real world networking may be the way forward. Acquiring contacts and inviting them to connect online.
  • Don’t forget to listen to what people are saying about you on social sites, this can be a valuable insight into how your business is perceived, you may even unearth some potential opportunities.

And finally, the myth that social media is free. Yes it’s free to create a profile, blog or sign up to a management suite. However you need to invest time into managing your social media platforms, creating and or curating content. Unless the person/s responsible for the social media function in your business is a volunteer, then you are paying someone to look after it. I’m sure you’re familiar with the phrase ‘time is money’; well this is a perfect way to sum up the cost of social media.

Worried about the cost of your time? Well sometimes you have to speculate to accumulate!

Still not convinced on utilising social media? Well how about these nuggets!

(All figures relate to the Welsh average)

  • 37% thoroughly research products before they buy them
  • 50% check a number of sources before making a significant purchase
  • 23% say if they trust a brand, they buy it without looking at the price

Source: GB TGI Radio+ 2012 Quarter 2, Kantar Media, Wales BARB region

This is a very basic insight into corporate social media! I may even revisit this blog and look at each stage in further detail, in the meantime please leave a comment below or email me jodi.stuart@realradio.co.uk or via Twitter @realradiojodi

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