So­cial me­dia mar­ket­ing cam­paigns are cost- ef­fec­tive but they can eas­ily back­fire

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - Front Page -

Why some work and some don’t.

VI­RAL mar­ket­ing is a trendy term, but it’s a game of chance, as many com­pa­nies have found out.

The Old Spice Guy was one of those rare, lucky vi­ral memes that worked.

The ‘‘ Man Your Man Could Smell Like’’, with his rapid- fire mono­logues and wry, non­cha­lant de­meanour gar­nered more than 34 mil­lion views and scored a Prime­time Emmy Award for Out­stand­ing Com­mer­cial.

When the film The Blair Witch Project was in pro­duc­tion way back in 1999, clips, which were pur­ported to be real, were leaked online and the un­sus­pect­ing pub­lic fell for it.

Fil­ter­ing its way into the main­stream in the most sub­tle way pos­si­ble, this film, with a bud­get of mere thou­sands of dol­lars and a mar­ket­ing cam­paign that cost vir­tu­ally noth­ing, The Blair Witch Project be­came one of the most prof­itable movies of all time. Ah, but the in­no­cent days of the in­ter­net are long be­hind us. No longer do we fall for such trick­ery. Now, vi­ral mar­ket­ing cam­paigns can quickly go bad when hi­jacked by the pis­stak­ing, pun- pulling pub­lic online.

When so­cial me­dia strate­gies back­fire, peo­ple can’t look away and it can also ir­repara­bly dam­age the com­pany’s rep­u­ta­tion.

For ex­am­ple, Nis­san landed in the mid­dle of a PR storm af­ter the win­ner of a $ 20,000 car in a so­cial me­dia com­pe­ti­tion was re­vealed to be friends with the Ja­panese car gi­ant’s so­cial me­dia co- or­di­na­tor.

Nis­san will prob­a­bly re­cover from that so­cial me­dia dis­as­ter but other com­pa­nies may not.

Qan­tas has been in the pub­lic’s bad books over fight­ing union is­sues and work­ers’ de­mands, the com­pany’s CEO Alan Joyce re­ceiv­ing mil­lions of dol­lars in bonus pay­ments while work­ers suf­fered, and ser­vices be­ing shut down leav­ing pas­sen­gers stranded.

Then they launched an ill- timed com­pe­ti­tion on Twit­ter with a hash­tag that back­fired spec­tac­u­larly for all the world to see.

The @ Qan­ta­sair­ways Twit­ter ac­count asked for pas­sen­gers to send in their ‘‘ lux­ury fly­ing ex­pe­ri­ences’’ with a # Qan­taslux­ury hash­tag.

Sim­ple enough, what could pos­si­bly go wrong? Pretty much every­thing.

A trend­ing storm be­gan, mock­ing the lack of lux­ury in re­cent times.

Let that be a les­son: you can­not man­u­fac­ture a suc­cess­ful vi­ral cam­paign.

It’s a crowd- sourced ef­fort and with the di­ver­sity of peo­ple online, you re­ally don’t know what you’re ask­ing for un­til it’s cir­cu­lat­ing, like wild­fire.

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