Effective Marketing is still about the Message….NOT about the Social!

I was thinking about all the posts I have seen, and even written about Social Media “Jumping the Shark”.  Is Social Media just a fad?  When will it fade away?  I don’t think it will fade way, but evolve and be a key part of the Marketer’s portfolio or toolkit. 

I thought about marketing campaigns that failed using Social Media, and if you listen to the pundits, who espouse Social Media as the key to all customer engagements, the key to “driving your business to new heights of profitability”.  I say not true! 

With the advent of Social Media, much of the focus around marketing campaigns has been around the technology provisions that Social Media affords.   Blogs, Tweets, Facebook Pages and Facebook Groups, “Like” buttons, YouTube, and Geo-location services are among the more prominent technologies.  These technologies are indeed powerful, yet there are still stories of failed Social Marketing campaigns which used these technologies.  So why did they fail?  What was it about these Social Marketing campaigns that caused them to fail?

First let’s look at what makes a good Marketing Campaign:

1. It should produce actual results.  Amazing huh?  The campaign is tied to a strategy or action plan.  This provides clear goals for the marketers to focus the campaign on.  Metrics need to be captured to validate the original marketing plans.

2. Generates Continuous Information activities.  The campaign should generate an ongoing information turn; to identify the key contacts within your market segments, to identify the profile characteristic’s of your customer base, and to trace your brand’s perception, your marketplace positioning, and customer’s preferences, etc. 

3. Reinforces the brand identity.  The campaign must reinforce the brand and its positioning within the marketplace, or you can confuse your audience. Good Communication is still KING!

4. Interacts & Connects with customers on a personal level.  The campaign needs to reach the emotional connections that customers and potential customers can envision and link to your product\service.

5. Does not Piss People off.  The marketing campaign should not annoy people, unless you’re trying to make a point that your product or service alleviates pain points within people’s lives.  Even then the campaign should not make people work too hard to capture the concepts of the campaign.

So now we see what a good marketing campaign should encompass, to add social media elements simply should amplify the message your trying to deliver to customers and potential customers.   There are some pretty famous failed campaigns that attempted to use Social Media to convey a message, but clearly were not thought thru:

  1. Wal Mart‘s Facebook Campaign – Wal Mart here tried using Facebook pages feature to market itself in a different image, “practicality” vs. “style”, and failed miserably as opposed to Target, the company!
  2. Skittles Twitter Campaign – Although it should have worked out in their favor, skittles underestimated the power of tweeting when it utilized Twitter, which in turn turned what could have been a great campaign against them through the attacks they received about their product through the Twitter community!
  3. Kiva.org‘s Twitter Campaign – By applying a the “#followfriday” concept, Kiva.org tried to tremendously increase the number of followers and sadly, they failed (we think it’s due to choosing the wrong audience).
  4. Starbucks Social Media Campaign – Though their idea to leverage the customer community to drive co-innovation is a great one in theory, Starbucks less than planned or integrated campaign failed to gain the feedback sought.
  5. Advani‘s Political Social Media Campaign – Though his people were on the right track utilizing a blog, a Facebook page, a Youtube channel and others, there was too much emphasis on advertising rather than communication which lead to a less than desired outcome.
  6. Molson Canadian Facebook Photo Contest Campaign – The photo required to enter the draw for a trip to Cancun promoted irresponsible drinking and lead to the plummet of the campaign!
  7. Target Rounder‘s Facebook Campaign – One which utilized a lie created just to gain more fans and a larger community!
  8. Brinpopcorn.com‘s Social Media Spammer – They tried to bribe top diggers to place them on the first page!
  9. General Motor‘s SUV “create your own advert” Viral Marketing Campaign – The problem was that the environmentalists created negative ads!
  10. Resident Evil‘s Viral Marketing Campaign – Sony’s Resident Evil mobile marketing campaign backfired when people thought they are receiving actual mobile viruses!

So in looking at the above campaigns, we can see almost all of the above failures did not conform to good marketing campaign standards.  Tweets and Facebook Posting mean nothing without some good strategy and planning behind it.  I like to review any Social Media campaign, and after stripping away all the technology, examine if the campaign could stand on its own merits to accomplish the objectives?  If it could, then adding the technology should be a boost to the execution.

So the moral is by now we have learned so much from failed Social Marketing Campaigns, is use the power of Social Media technologies not as the core of the campaign, but as the lubricant between your audience and intended message.

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