Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Spectacular Social Media FAIL

Although marketing via social networks can still be considered a new phenomenon, the rules of engagement should be fairly obvious and not too dissimilar from other mediums.

Small businesses that are grappling with how to extract benefits of engaging with social media can take a valuable lesson from a large corporate that has embarrassingly failed with a promotion that used social media. This FAIL will have ongoing harsh consequences. 

The National Business Review (NBR) in association with Veuve Clicquot celebrated their 40th birthday with a competition. It was a great idea that captured people's imagination. Entrants had the opportunity to win their weight in Veuve Clicquot by suggesting ideas on how they would celebrate. The public could then vote on the best suggestion.

The Roarprawn Blog along with other popular blogs backed social media celebrity entrant, Busted Blond by encouraging their thousands of readers to vote. Busted Blond ended up winning the hard fought popular vote from others that were also promoting their entry via social networks

It would be fair to say that the duration of the competition was a success. There were plenty of great ideas and NBR along with Veuve Clicquot got some tremendous publicity via social networks.

Surprisingly, NBR allowed the published deadline of the competition to pass and caused confusion by seemingly changing the rules. All of a sudden an appealing, simple and transparent competition got complicated with a hint of conspiracy. To the dismay of many, NBR announced that the popular vote winner would not win the competition and the top ten would go into a pool and judges would decide the winner...a week later.

The irony is that two major brands that promoted a popular, well received competition have put themselves in a position where the public have ended up questioning their credibility. Social media was used to successfully promote these brands during the competition and now the same medium is being used to mock and discredit.

A lot of folk are upset about how NBR have handled this and the same popular blogs that were promoting the competition are now calling out NBR and Veuve Clicquot by questioning their ethics including Roarprawn, Cactus Kate, Whailoil, Keeping Stock et al along with the customary Facebook page: "We drink anything but Veuve Clicquot."

So the valuable lesson here is that businesses when using social media need to be upfront and transparent. If they are seen to deviate from the righteous course, then social media will bite them on the bum.

The results of a Google search using the terms: National Business Review (NBR) and Veuve Clicquot will dredge up bad publicity that will dog these brands for some time.

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