Have you ever said something without thinking or posted something online and then almost immediately wish you could take it back? You're not alone.
There are a lot of great things about the social space. From a marketing and customer service standpoint you are able to utilize these channels to receive feedback on how your company or brand is performing. Further, you can crowd source ideas to come up with the best people-powered offers. There's really no better idea than to ask fans what they want and then deliver it to them.
And there's no worse idea than to not consider your audience when coming up with these messages. What you post lives online forever (yes, even when deleted), so it's imperative to make sure your messaging isn't going to alienate or anger the very fans you are trying make happy.
Consider Your Audience
A good example of this is a campaign that GM (General Motors) ran late last year. The promotion was aimed at selling cars to college students. GM's messaging in their advertisements centered around how embarrassing it is to be riding a bicycle when you could be driving a car. The tagline was "Stop pedaling...start driving."
Not surprisingly, the cycling community got wind of the campaign - even though it only ran in college newspapers and not online. When they did, the GM College Program's Facebook page (and Twitter) was flooded with hundreds of negative comments about GM, their program and the ads.
Listen And Respond
Talk about a huge backfire! This entire debacle, however, could have been easily avoided by simply understanding their audience (many college students are enthusiastic cyclists) and then creating a campaign that would be exciting (and not offensive) for them.
To their credit, they did have an employee responding to every comment. "Thank you for your input. We are in the process of re-tooling this campaign." Or "Our intent was not to offend. Thank you for your comment." This was where GM did the right thing. You have to listen to what fans are saying and then respond in a kind and thoughtful way. Don’t make excuses. Let them know that their concerns are being heard and addressed.
Timing Is Still Everything
Last year Quantus Airlines launched a Twitter campaign where they asked their followers to "describe their dream luxury in-flight experience." Incidentally, a pretty good question to ask! The only problem was that they posted the day after Qantas and their union ceased contract negotiations. Flights were delayed or canceled and service was interrupted. At one point the entire fleet was grounded. Instead of using the suggested hashtag of #QantasLuxury to share their dreams, customers hijacked the tag to publicly state what a nightmare it was to fly with Qantas.
If you're the person responsible for social media communications for your brand or company, it's really important to be aware of what is happening (inside and outside your organization) and to respond appropriately. And if need be, re-schedule or delay campaigns accordingly.
Doing It The Right Way
Recently country superstars Lady Antebellum were approaching 7 million fans on Facebook. With the number 7 as their inspiration, they utilized the Moontoast SocialStore to offer fans a special $7 deal on a cool t-shirt and sticker for 24 hours. They kicked the deal off at the very moment that they hit 7 million likes. Fans loved the offer and responded with enthusiasm. Within just a few short hours the offer post had over 4,000 likes, over a hundred comments and over 70 shares. The offer worked because it was special (celebrating an achievement), limited (24 hours) to create a sense of urgency, and priced like a reward ($7 is a great deal for a shirt).
Keep It Simple
It's tempting to over-think what you're doing in the social space. In the age of the emerging social revolution, mistakes will be made. Not everybody is going to like your campaign, offer or marketing messages. Try not to think about how to extract dollars from every fan and instead think about how you can reward them (with coupons, giveaways, etc.) and give them a fantastic and fun experience. There is a ton of value in simple and honest interactions. Be authentic, positive and responsive and you will soon be receiving the results you want - happy fans!