Using Caution When Promoting Your Brand Via Social Media

Promoting Your Brand

Using social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter to promote your brand and its corresponding site is a great idea – it provides a variety of ways to spread awareness and it is an effective marketing tool for your business. However, you should tread lightly when using Facebook to spread the good word online.

In a recent Coca-Cola Facebook campaign, what started out as a clever and entertaining way to be interactive with Facebook users ended in a lot of negative word of mouth and the potential fall of the marketing agency Coca-Cola used. The social media marketing plan’s goal was to promote Dr. Pepper on Facebook through the use of some clever programming. A program was designed to override the Facebook status box of an opted-in user with entertaining, embarrassing quotes that were randomly chosen.

It went smoothly until an inappropriate quote (“What’s wrong with peeing in the shower?”) appeared on a 14-year-old girl’s profile page. The reference was to adult material that did not belong on an account associated with Facebook or Dr. Pepper… let alone the account of a 14-year-old child.
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When the girl’s mother saw the status update in her account, she contacted Coca-Cola. “MrsRickman” (the mother’s username) submitted a complaint to the company … and as a response, Coca-Cola offered her free theater tickets and a hotel stay as an apology. Offended, MrsRickman took her complaint to a UK mom’s website. She received 1300 replies and caused quite a stir for Coca-Cola – so much so, that the marketing agency they used (Lean Mean Fighting Machine) is facing hard times ahead because of it.

According to New Media Age, Coca-Cola claims, ““We were unaware of the meaning of this line when the promotion was approved and have launched an investigation into why it was included. We take full responsibility and will be reviewing our promotional procedures.”

“We have stopped all our ongoing work with Lean Mean Fighting Machine and are reviewing our relationship with the agency. We will take all steps necessary to ensure this does not happen again.”

What you should take away from Coca-Cola’s debacle is this – it is good to become involved with your company’s profile page by updating it with media, statuses, and interacting with users. However, one needs to be diligent in protecting their company’s reputation and brand while employing social media marketing tactics. Any inappropriate status or media that’s posted for an adult audience could easily wind up being seen by minors… and then snowballing into a situation that will cause your company name harm, no matter how many people are searching for your business because of the incident.

Privacy is hard to come by on the Internet. You never know who has access to your data and who could be profiting from it. Issues over user privacy certainly do get people fired up, and for good reason. No one wants their information to be sold and used to sell products/services. The latest business to consider selling user data is none other than Google.

Recently, the Wall Street Journal published an article with information from a ‘secret’ document outlining Google’s plans for user data. For years, Google has avoided this for fear of negative repercussions and user backlash. So why are they considering it now? Most likely this is due to the success that Facebook Advertising has seen and the fact that they are second to Yahoo! in ad revenues.

In my opinion, Google has access to too much information. Some people rely exclusively on Google and its programs (such as Gmail, Google Docs, Google Calendar, etc) to help them run their professional and personal lives. I don’t know about you, but I really don’t feel comfortable with Google scanning my emails and using that information to ‘sell’ to me.

On social networks, users can choose to omit or hide certain information from their profiles. However, Google has access to so much more personal data across their various programs; information that needs to be documented somewhere such as that meeting with your divorce attorney. Do you really want Google know about that?

What are your thoughts about Google and YOUR data? Do you think that Google will push ahead or take a step back?

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