The social media rollercoaster
Marketing insights from one of Australia's leading Professional Services Marketing Specialists, Rebecca Wilson, Stretch Marketing's Principal Marketing and Business Development Consultant.

The last two weeks on the social media rollercoaster

In the last two weeks there has been two shining examples of what to do and what not to do when handling a corporate social media page.  

The first example showing quick thought and smart action that works, comes from Oreo. During the Superbowl last week the power went out for around 30 minutes. The clever social media managers for Oreo quickly developed an ad that was simple, smart and on target, tweeting it out…

“Power out?” Oreo posted on Twitter. “No problem, you can still dunk in the dark.” The tweet was retweeted 10,000 times within 1 hour.

Why it worked…

Relevance and timing is everything.    Oreo realised people would be jumping on Twitter to comment when the power outage happened and they quickly moved to be part of the fun. It worked because the image was posted at the right time and it was relevant to audiences.

Show that you are human.    When the lights went out at the Super Bowl, many were making fun of it through jokes on social media. Oreo jumped right in and without being stupid or offensive and had people laughing along with them. They became part of their community and showed that they had a sense of humour. People relate strongly to a brand and the people behind it when they share similar experiences.

Build your followers.     Oreo had been tweeting and posting culturally relevant ads every day for six months, gathering loyal followers. They had a structured social media plan and laid the foundations for the Superbowl social media ad that resonated strongly with their followers and encouraged sharing.

On social media, simple is best.     We are seeing a movement toward a more visual web. Images are quick and easy they don’t require additional clicks or even very much time to digest. Most importantly, they are easy to share


The second example at the opposite end of the spectrum shows how things can go horribly wrong.   It comes from Applebees, which is a chain of casual food restaurants in the USA.

So the story goes, a customer declined to leave a tip. Instead the customer who happened to be a priest left a snarky note. “I give God 10% why do you get 18%”. A waitress picked up the note, took a photo of it and posted it on Facebook. Unfortunately the note included the name of the customer. The waitress subsequently lost her job for violating a customer’s privacy.

What followed afterwards was difficult to watch.

Numerous Facebook groups were created to support the waitress and to boycott Applebees restaurants until she was hired back.

Applebees in response committed a multitude of social media sins over a very short 12 hour period. This included hiding behind privacy statements and legal jargon, deleting negative comments from their social media pages, denying their actions, copying and pasting previous statements instead of responding to concerns, and arguing back with comments.

While there is always two sides to the story, Applebees could have saved themselves from the humiliation. Here are some ways how…

It is better to join the conversation rather than try to control it.     The new reality of social media means that brands can’t control the conversation anymore. Applebees shows us that many companies are still struggling with this concept and need to shift from a push marketing mindset to a pull marketing reality. Their followers were crying out for interaction and conversation but instead Applebees gave them repetitious corporate statements.

Be honest and transparent.     Applebees should have been honest and transparent from the start. The public would have been a lot more forgiving. Instead they tried to cover their mistakes and denied any cover up. Of course this just made the situation a whole lot worse.

Listen to your audience.     Instead of listening to comments and politely responding Applebees chose to delete, ignore or pasted standard responses. This showed disrespect to their audience and caused outrage and a flood of negative posts towards Applebees. Questions and direct comments even if they are negative must be acknowledged and responded to politely.

Put someone in charge of social media with experience.     Make sure the person who is handling your social media accounts has experience, not only in social media, but also in social media publishing and monitoring for a business. They must also understand your business, the products and services it offers, and must be mature enough to handle a public relations crisis if it develops.

The key takeaway from these examples is that social media is a vital part of a content marketing strategy for businesses. Therefore, it pays to get it right. On top of the above points, make sure that you have a social media plan in place that includes your social media goals and objectives, key messages, and sets out the overall tone and voice to be portrayed. This will ensure that your social media will maintain and build on the credibility of your brand, increase customer loyalty and ultimately gain new customers and followers.

Kate Chaundy is a Marketing Consultant with Stretch Marketing. 

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Written by Kate Chaundy

Kate Chaundy

Kate Chaundy is an experienced services marketer with over 12 years of experience in both professional firms and fast growing businesses. Kate has extensive experience in marketing strategy, communications, social media and digital strategies, submission writing and campaign development that build the profiles of professional firms and the personal brands within them.

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  • Rebecca Wilson

    Founder and MD of growing Professional Services Marketing firm, Stretch Marketing, I keep myself on the cutting edge of business trends, digesting technology changes, Internet forces, industry challenges and business opportunities on a daily basis. Myself, and the Stretch Marketing team learn constantly so you can access smart marketing and communications thinking locally, and nationally, whenever you need it.


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