Corporate Marketing Peeps Misjudge Power of Social Media

True Story – Corporation Makes Three Social Media Mistakes

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By Roger Ewing

True story.  A large corporate sales organization launches a regional print media magazine in southern California.  The initiative in itself is not unusual.  What happened next however is very insightful for all of us who recognize the blossoming power of social media and the consequences, both positive and negative that can result from a corporations voyage into digital marketing.


The corporation launches it’s new magazine to great fanfare and announces the primary distribution point will be to include the piece in local newspapers in their target regional market.  The magazine will be “stuffed” into the newspaper each weekend and will replace the traditional newspaper advertising that has characterized their corporate advertising model for many years.

As part of their launch they include online support via web site, Facebook and Twitter.  The strategy is clearly well planned, executed, and the printed piece is generally well received by the sales force and the public.  This is the point where the corporation failed to recognize the potential for problems.  The corporate marketing peeps did not anticipate the opportunity for uninvited competitors to crash their ‘friendly” social media party.

I am a competitor and, as the leader of my company, one of my jobs is to discredit any new initiative my competition creates. This is part and parcel of what we do every day in business.  I create new initiatives for my business, while at the same time, ethically devaluing my competitor’s strategies.  Once Facebook and Twitter were launched in support of the corporation’s new initiative, I saw an opportunity to reveal the weaknesses of the new magazine to a large number of individuals, both inside and outside my competitor’s organization.  The beauty of it is, they welcomed me in.

The open forum of Facebook and Twitter gives individuals and small business owners communicative power they never had in the days of print and television.  I simply made my competitor my “friend” on Facebook and then let the fun begin.  Following are three major mistakes the corporation made in their launch strategy.

Mistake 1.  The corporation proceeded to post, or should I say spam, my Facebook pages with ads for their new magazine. These “ads” were being posted three, sometimes four, times a day.  Since I did not want to be a partner in the corporate ad campaign, I was faced with a dilemma.  Remove the corporation from my Facebook and Twitter pages, or write a comment.  After weighing the options, I chose the latter.

Mistake 2.  The corporation never anticipated negative feedback appearing in their social media space.  As a result, they were slow to react to my postings that pointed out the inherent weaknesses of their new magazine.

Mistake 3. The corporation whined about my comments placed on their Facebook and Twitter posts.  This only created drama, which in turn gave me more power.  The individual versus the corporation.  The classic struggle of good (me) versus evil (them).

Ultimately, of course, they removed me from their Facebook page and blocked me from Twitter, but not until I had time to post numerous responses to their advertising posts.  The corporation was caught flat footed and had played into the unfolding drama by breaking the primary rules of social media blogging.

Never hard sell your product, and whatever you do, don’t allow your posts to morph into spam.

There are powerful lessons we can all take away from this true story.
To be continued…

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