Corporations often lose in Social Media

Many companies want to be part of the “new” “trendy” world of social media but they are not prepared to accept the realities of the world in which they enter. Often the campaigns just get lost, they are a failure in silence but occasionally they turn into magnificent failures that make your job drop in amazement – what were they thinking?

In January 2012 it was McDonalds who attempted to create buzz by asking people to tweet their cosy moments under the hashtag #McDStories. They were obviously expecting plenty of nice little tales of happy customers enjoying advertising like moments but – of course – this was not the only thing that happened. Forbes published a story on the campaign #McDStories: When A Hashtag Becomes A Bashtag which included examples such as

One time I walked into McDonalds and I could smell Type 2 diabetes floating in the air and I threw up.

Hardly a brilliant piece of marketing.

In a more difficult situation the oil company shell has been the “victim” of an interesting Internet anti-campaign by Greenpeace. Greenpeace set up a copy of the Shell site and asked people to automatically generate advertising posters for their (Shell’s) arctic oil. Huffington post writes:

Since June, Visitors to the site arcticready.com were treated to a spoof mimicking Royal Dutch Shell Plc’s website, a collaborative effort by Greenpeace and The Yes Men, a pair of activists known to imitate companies they dislike.

The results were obvious

According to design consulting firm, PSFK, the public was ready to believe that Arctic Ready was a legitimate marketing campaign. “It is entirely plausible Shell might have been reckless enough to crowd-source adverts using its ‘Let’s Go’ line, and that the crowd-sourced efforts had included gems such as ‘This fox will murder you unless we kill it first. Let’s Go’”

Greenpeace soon released a statement claiming responsibility for the campaign…

When it comes to Social Media dialogues corporate budgets are inadequate when dealing with the sheer numbers of responses capable of being generated by individuals using social media. Any responses left for the corporations (such as suing for copyright violation or defamation) are more likely than not going to generate even bigger PR failures. What is a poor multi-billion dollar corporation to do?

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