The dangers of dabbling in social-media for promotional purposes

The other day I posted on the Power of Social Media and cited the case of Busted Blonde, NBR and the Veuve Cliquot competition. Yesterday I drew attention to the publication of guidance by ISACA on Social Media Risks. One factor identified by ISACA was the need to:-

Include social media training in the organization’s regular awareness communications or information security training curriculum. Users need to understand what is (and is not) appropriate and how to protect themselves and the organization when using social media.

The NBR/Veuve Cliquot incident illustrates this well. There has been considerable media comment in NZ both online and in the MSM. Much comment in NZ, often negative, was directed at NBR.

In addition there has been considerable overseas comment. Apart from press comment such as this piece by Anthony Rose in The Independent – When cliquot lost it’s Veuve, this item in a trade journal caught my eye.

Marinel FitzSimons – The Drinks Business described the situation and concluded thus:-

But the ever-effervescing temper of the bloggers has not been calmed, as the current quarrel is that she is not receiving her weight in Champagne, but in Champagne bottles.

As one blogger puts it: “[NBR] had a com­pe­ti­tion, they enlisted social media, they changed the rules and got smashed via social media. It isn’t good enough to get away with­out a penalty pay­ment, and I say they should pay her weight in Cham­pagne, as per the terms and con­di­tions, with­out the bottle.”

This tale is yet another example of the dangers of dabbling in social-media for promotional purposes.

Ms FitzSimons makes a very good point. If you are going to use Social Media, make sure you know what you are doing and why. Develop a clear strategy and understand the risks.

In this regard, I found this article- When A Social Media Campaign Goes Bad –  by Dr. Colin N. Clarke, who is a senior strategist for The Flint Group; he studies how and why people choose to consume information to be of considerable interest. At the beginning he writes:-

An interesting case study has recently emerged in New Zealand that underscores the power of social media… and how it must be wielded CAREFULLY.

Dr Clarke then backgrounds the whole affair, including some quotes from bloggers. He suggests that the original premise to harness Social Media was sound, but it failed in the execution. Indeed, just like many business projects do.

He comments:-

What is one of the most important elements of a social media strategy? TRANSPARENCY. And this is where NBR failed.

The fallout is beginning to reach a fevered pitch in New Zealand as bloggers and mainstream media are now berating NBR for its lack of transparency. True to the nature of social media, the court of public opinion is speaking out and it’s not pretty

So now a lot of media coverage, but not favourable coverage.

Dr Clarke highlights how Transparency is critical when using Social Media and concludes his piece with this:-

NBR and Veuve Clicquot opened the social media door when they created the campaign. The best move they can make now is to create extra space on the podium, include the popular vote winner and celebrate. Maybe next time they will plan their social media strategy more thoroughly, and make sure that the rule of TRANSPARENCY is heeded.

What failed social media campaigns have you experienced? How did they fail you?

EDIT – Five days after the social media eruption occurred, NBR posted this apology and awarded the popular vote winner a grand prize as well. A graceful apology with a bit of humor, it is interesting that NBR states it did not intend to “compromise transparency.” No doubt a lesson learned by NBR in how to properly engage in the social media environment.

The bold text is inserted by Dr Clarke.

This media coverage and the comment piece by Dr Clarke vividly illustrate what happens when media campaigns go wrong. When a good idea is poorly executed!

Some Thoughts:-

This case brings out a number of key issues.

1. Using Social Media not only potentially incurs technology and  related risks, but as with other initiatives incurs Business Risks. In fact in some instances, such as this one the Business Risk may be the greater risk run.

2. Social Media inititiatives should, in the same manner as other business projects, be subject to a Business Risk Assessment as part of the proposal for the project

3. Social Media campaigns must be run by people who understand the nature of the media being harnessed; or with input from same

4. The rapidity with which issues/problems can spread due to the nature of the Social Media world means that risk planning and mitigation strategies are essential.

5. As with all initiatives an appropriate governance framework should be in place, one that is flexible and responsive, with appropriate underlying processes and policies

A last word from Anthony Rose:-

It may yet well be a win-win situation though if you believe that all publicity is good publicity (ask Max Clifford). Remember when the champenois sued Yves St Laurent for calling its fragrance Champagne? It may have cost YSL a packet in legal fees, but it was nothing compared to the profits reaped from worldwide sales of Champagne, the fragrance, and publicity for the brand. Could the last laugh belong to the marketing-savvy Widow after all?

Call me cynical, but?

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