In a market that has been transformed by social media, businesses are searching for unique ways to make a splash. Here are six innovative (or are they crazy?) social media strategies that businesses used in the last year to make a different kind of impression.
Burger King abandons followers. Concerned that people “liked” their page just to get free things, Burger King executives wanted to identify their loyal followers. They created a new page and then offered 1,000 fans on their old page a free Big Mac if they would not like the new page. Burger king lost 28,000 disloyal followers, about two-thirds of their original following, and has been criticized for not understanding how social media works—a bigger audience is supposedly always better. But is it? Burger King claims to enjoy having a smaller, more active, and more interested fan base.
Samsung capitalizes on the President. Boston Red Sox player David Ortiz, also known as “Big Papi,” took a selfie with President Obama after the team presented the president with a jersey. The snapshot quickly spread on Twitter and it didn’t take long before the truth about the photo came out. Big Papi reportedly had a contract with Samsung to tweet photos from the White House in efforts to promote Samsung’s Galaxy phone. The White House was not too happy that the president was being used for advertising and even talked about banning presidential selfies. Unfortunately, while consumers know businesses are always vying for their attention, the public eyes drawn to this marketing ploy may have left a bad taste in some customers’ mouths.
Eat24 breaks up with Facebook. Earlier this year, Eat24 blogged an extensive and humorous letter to Facebook. The folks from this restaurant app are mad about how much the social network has changed over the years, including its updated algorithm that dictates what users want to see appearing in their feeds. Eat24 is done with Facebook, but its break-up letter became one of the blog’s most popular posts. In another blogpost, “Life after Facebook,” Eat24 claims to be happy they broke up with Facebook, despite the criticism they faced. They found an increased interest through other social media outlets, which they feel provide a stronger connection with their customers.
Make-A-Wish finds Batkid supporters. Surely you heard about Batkid (Miles Scott), the five-year-old leukemia patient who took over San Francisco last November. Make-A-Wish Foundation used social media to find volunteers to help out with the event, hoping for a few hundred and ending up with over 12,000. The footage of Miles saving the city with his fellow super heroes went viral. President Obama even joined in with the millions of other people who watched and Tweeted about the story. Now filmmaker Dana Nachman plans to continue Batkid’s legacy by making a documentary about him. Make-A-Wish scored big with this one, and all they did was ask for volunteers.
WestJet facilitates a Christmas Miracle. A few hundred lucky passengers got just what they asked for last Christmas. While waiting for their holiday flights, Santa asked for their wishes. Then, in a flurry of preparation, WestJet employees purchased the desired gifts—everything from underwear to a big screen TV—and had them coming down the baggage claim, wrapped and labeled, at the passengers’ destination. While making and airing commercials usually costs hundreds of thousands of dollars, the Canadian airline was rewarded with spending less on the Christmas experiment and getting millions of eyes on their company for this positive experiment. Despite the expenses that came with months of preparation, the labor required to make everything go as planned, the filming, and the gifts themselves, the airline spent less and reached more with this heartwarming campaign.
Amy’s Baking Company freaks out. Amy’s Baking Company is a small Arizona restaurant featured on “Kitchen Nightmares.” The episode revealed shockingly poor service and terrible treatment of employees, escalating the negative feedback posted on the restaurant’s Facebook page and then on Yelp and Reddit. Responses from Amy’s Baking Company were in all caps and full of profanity and anger, leading Forbes to label their reactions as the perfect example of the least effective way for a business to use social media. Nonetheless, the whole fiasco made the restaurant a tourist attraction of sorts, increasing the negative coverage of the food and service.
Social media marketing is now so mainstream, companies have to think outside the box to get attention from their campaigns. Some of the six campaigns we talked about found positive ways to do this, while others benefited, at least temporarily, from a poor choice. What other campaigns would you add to our list?