Hazards Of Mismanaged Social Media

September 13, 2012

Social Media, Social Media Marketing

Hazards Of Social Media

Understatement of the day:

Social Media Is A Powerful Thing.

Businesses that utilize social media tools for web marketing strategies have the chance to present their products or services to millions upon millions of potential customers. The sheer visibility offered by social media services like Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest is too tempting for any enterprising businessperson or marketing professional to pass up.

But social media is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it connects entrepreneurs to new business it also exposes them to endless scrutiny of the masses on the web. Any slip up or poorly planned web marketing push through social media outlets could have terrible repercussions. It isn’t pretty when you’re villainized by the web.

Here are a few words of industry wisdom that might help you navigate the hazards of social media usage. Consider them with care!

Vulnerability: the problem with web marketing

There’s a certain risk involved in any type of marketing. When you’re trying to sell a product or a service to someone, there’s always the chance that you could expose yourself to criticism or inadvertently misrepresent your brand. Those challenges are amplified a hundred times over when using social media tools, because the public can directly and immediately challenge, ridicule, warp, and refute just about anything that you post. That’s why you have to play it smart if you want to succeed in the realm of social media.

Exercise caution with crowd sourcing

Certain social media-related web marketing strategies rely on crowd sourcing in order to get people involved with the campaign. A company might ask for customer feedback on Twitter, or maybe they’ll ask for entrants in a company-sponsored contest to win a big prize. But be warned, reader:

If you hand your web marketing campaign to the public, you’d better brace yourself for potential backlash. <<< Tweet this! 

The popular soft drink Mountain Dew learned this lesson the hard way just last month. They launched a social media marketing campaign using crowd sourcing to give the soft drink a new name. Users were asked to submit potential names for the soft drink, with the most popular one winning the contest. The results were a disaster, as the naming pool was hijacked by some mischievous pranksters forcing the entire campaign to be shut down.

Anticipate detours and sudden developments

We can all learn something from what happened to Mountain Dew and other companies who failed to see the potential pitfalls of their viral web marketing campaigns. Mountain Dew caters to a young audience, many of whom spend a good deal of time on the internet. The company was just asking for trouble when they proposed users rename the soda—their move was equivalent to a grade school teacher handing the chalk to their kids and expecting them to teach the class maturely and respectfully.

You have to know your audience before you basically give them the keys to your company’s social media campaign. For example, you might want to avoid a crowd sourcing initiative asking for customer feedback if your company has a reputation for bad service and subpar production (even if it’s necessarily not true). Remember the instant PR mess that McDonald’s had on their hands when they took to Twitter for customer feedback?

Here’s a taste of what happened:

For the non-spanish audience that last one is something like: McDonald’s sweeps the net after social failure.

Roll with the punches

Awareness is the key to success in the social media. Sure, your business’ social media blitz might get trolled from ill-meaning users, but they don’t ultimately control the narrative; you do be aware of your company’s strengths and weaknesses when you’re representing it on Twitter and Facebook, and play to the strengths.

Whenever someone knocks your company, take it in stride and move on. It goes a long way to show good humour on the web. Poking fun at your company or your product in a good-naturedly way can earn you serious brownie points in an atmosphere where humour, irony, and cheekiness drives everything.

About Samantha Gray

Samantha Gray is a freelance writer based in Houston, Texas, who offers college advice at <a href="http://www.bachelorsdegreeonline.com/" rel="nofollow" www.bachelorsdegreeonline.com, to those interested in furthering their studies and careers. She can be reached for questions or comments at samanthagray024@gmail.com.

View all posts by Samantha Gray

9 Responses to “Hazards Of Mismanaged Social Media”

  1. KrisOlin Says:

    Wow! Those Mountain Dew and McDonalds’s screw ups are really brutal! Great post, Samantha!


  2. John Garrett Says:

    Hey Samantha, this is a great post! It’s funny to participate in these things as you see the tweets fly by, but I often wonder…does anyone ever get fired for these fiascos? There’s a real tangible cost to screwing up this badly so I have to assume someone pays for it.

    Here’s another bad one from earlier this year: http://www.unmarketing.com/2012/01/10/worst-use-of-social-media-of-2012-boners-bbq/

    It has to do with your last point -taking the lumps in stride. This was one where the restaurant got a bad review and went on the attack. Wow.


    • KrisOlin Says:

      Wow, dude, that is a wicked story! I didn’t know businesses such as Boners BBQ actually existed. Talk about shooting yourself in the leg on Facebook! Thanks for your comment JG!


  3. Lyndon NA Says:

    The problem with Social is it tends to be “Personal”.

    When you are representing a company (owner, employee, contractor) – you must keep in mind the it is not just “you” – it is your brand, your colleagues, employees, employer etc. that may be dragged into it as well.

    There are numerous potential repercussions,
    ranging from simply getting emotionally involved in a negative experience,
    through to damaging perceptions, then on to possible legal issues.

    The basic Don’ts are;
    1) You don’t respond immediately (have a cool down period)
    2) You don’t simply ignore bad posts.
    3) You don’t respond negatively.
    4) You don’t get personal.

    Any/all companies that are making use of Social Media should;
    1) Seriously consider having a Staff SM policy
    2) Look at who should be utilised (I often pick out CS/PR staff for the task)
    3) Provide them specific training and roleplay situations
    4) Draw up proceedures that are always to hand
    5) Employ SM Monitoring
    6) Have a flagging/reporting system in place
    7) Designate a lead/hub to report to
    9) Have a centralised pool of “standard response patterns” (don’t C&P them, reword them, base your responses on them etc.)
    9) Have FireHandling Drills and Routines – sets of responses to handle Complaints, Attacks etc.
    10) Liase with a legal to double check media/responses for safety measures and to reduce risks
    11) Plan escape and withdrawal Responses

    There’s a ton of risks associated with SM … and too few people talk about them. Far to many companies walk into flames, trolling, wailing and get overly involved.

    It’s good to see someone else helping bring it to the fore!


    • KrisOlin Says:

      Great comment, Lyndon! I think especially that No. 1 on your Don’t -list is very important. Usually when you encounter something bad or negative you tend to try to fix it straight away. This is almost always a bad move on Social Media. You need to take your time and evaluate the situation carefully before you respond. You will lose nothing by responding the following day, and your response most likely will be a better one than the one done in the ‘heat of the moment’.


  4. Samantha Gray Says:

    Thanks so much to everyone who responded to this piece!

    Lyndon – I think you’re right. Visible social media accounts shouldn’t be used by people who would make regrettable comments, but by social media/web marketing professionals who know who to use them best.

    John – Thanks for your comment. I think it’s easier for bigger businesses to ignore bad reviews or negative feedback on the web. Small business social media accounts tend to be controlled by people directly involved in the business, so they might take it more personally when someone writes something negative.


  5. Yvette Porter Moore Says:

    This was very informative. We can all learn from the mistakes of McDonalds and Mountain Dew and their social marketing mistake. I wonder how they do it now.


    • KrisOlin Says:

      Yvette, I bet they learned from those bad experiences and are doing their social marketing a bit different now. I just wonder if Boners BBQ did any learning! Probably not…



  1. Image from page 436 of “Peking : a social survey conducted under auspices of the Princeton University Center in China and the Peking Young Men’s Christian Association” (1921) - September 16, 2015

    […] Hazards Of Social Media Image by Kris Olin This is what happens when social media backfires on you. socialmediarevolver.com/hazards-of-social-media/ […]

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