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When Marketing Goes Wrong

We’ve all seen brands fail epically on social media. In fact, I’d wager that most of us enjoy it. But when something backfires, it raises a question: Are they doing it on purpose for exposure?

Unlikely in most circumstances, though a few companies have done things so terribly wrong it’s easy to imagine one disgruntled (yet brilliant) marketer smiling while a campaign burns to the ground.

But we learn a few things out of these miserable marketing fails, like:

  • Humor only works if you’re funny.
  • It’s impossible to appeal to everyone.
  • Customers are critical.
  • “Choosing sides” in politics is never a good idea.
  • Twitter bots are inherently dangerous.

There is seldom a silver lining worth mentioning, except when the old “any press is good press” maxim holds true. That said, there are a few ways you may be burning your business’ online marketing to the ground without even knowing it.

How To Mess Up Your Own Campaign

There are several ways to ruin your brand’s reputation on social media and with physical customers. Typically, this occurs when you either A) Don’t know what you’re doing, B) Think you know what you’re doing, or C) Are trying to copy some other successful campaign and fail miserably.

To help you avoid common pitfalls and scan for warning signs, here are a few ways to effectively destroy your social media reputation:

1. Be Too Formal

No one likes to follow a Facebook page only to be rewarded with robotic ads and discount codes spilling out of the page’s newsfeed every twenty minutes. This is old-school advertising at its finest, of course, though the classic “put a flyer in the windshield” methodology doesn’t work on the Internet.

Instead, you need to find ways to engage your followers with actual human communication. Your brand needs a first-person representative, a voice that is personable and not so loud it causes people to hide your statuses.

2. Steal Things

“Stealing” is a loose enough term on the Internet, though there are a few ways brands can really shoot themselves in the foot. This includes:

  • Copying statuses and links from a more successful competitor, changing a few words, and posting on your Facebook page.
  • Hijacking high-frequency articles and posting them like you wrote them. Or, alternatively, only posting news articles that have nothing to do with your business.
  • Being blatantly unoriginal.

Your followers are smart — they know when you’re being un-genuine.

3. Not Interacting

There are millions of Facebook ghost towns out there. But while not posting may not hurt you outright, it certainly doesn’t help.

The best way to avoid this is to create an editorial calendar that forces you to post a certain times per day per week. Once posted, keep an eye on likes, shares, and comments in order to respond properly.

4. Fighting Back

You may come across a situation where a follower spams your post or insults your brand for no particular reason. Why? Because it’s the Internet, that’s why.

When this happens, resist the urge to lash back with comments. Simply delete the comment, block the commenter, and report it as spam. This can happen on blogs, websites, and any other platform readers can respond to.

5. Giving Up

Social media is an uphill battle. For smaller businesses with few resources to tackle follower generation and write awesome content, it’s almost an impossible battle.

That said, I would never tell a company to “give up” posting, Tweeting, blogging, and marketing. It’s how the modern consumer finds you, after all, and the absence of your brand is just as bad as a negative reputation from a marketing flop. 

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