Social Media Use or Abuse?

Lately social media has become more than ever a powerful tool for companies to reach out to their customers.  Social media channels are supposed to be used wisely for creating a special bond with customers.  It is really very easy and yet should not be taken lightly.  For example through social media channels a company should not be too formal while contacting customers but yet not too casual to the extent that we start using street language and saying jokes and such.  So how to use social media wisely and make it the right marketing tool for you is a question that every company has to answer for itself.

I will mention here two examples that I recently came across, one I consider good example of how companies should use social media to their advantage.  While the other is on the other side of the spectrum, it is a typical example of how social media can damage a company image if misused or abused.

The good example: Nokia in Egypt

Nokia planned an event in a five stars hotel in Egypt and sent out limited invitations for people to attend (I think only 40).  They studied people’s behaviour online and chose the ones who can be effective if they start talking about their product online. All the attendees took an E7 for free just for attending, no strings attached.  They created a hashtag for #NokiaE7 on twitter and asked their guests to take their time using the set and then tweet whatever they want on the features of the phone whether good or bad.  During the event they explained the phone features and they didn’t make people tweet, they just left it to everyone’s choice to tweet whatever he wants whenever he wants.  One very important aspect is that the event was planned and people received their sets before the Nokia E7 was released for sale in Egypt so all attendees got something really special.  Most of the people who received the set talked about it on twitter after that, I saw a lot of good comments and some bad ones but the campaign worked.  Twitter was effectively used to market for the product before it hits the market. People felt special to get something for free that was not even for sale in the market yet and is expensive too, not a cheap set.  People are still tweeting on it till now.  So Nokia really planned this very well and made great usage of twitter.

Now the bad example: Etisalat Masr

The worst marketing idea ever launched by Etisalat on twitter.  They said the following on twitter:

“Want to win a free #iPad? Retweet this & use the #EtisalatMisr hashtag in 3 of your own tweets. A winner will be picked by end of the month.”

They explained in another tweet following this that they are giving away ipad 1 for free. Well what is wrong with this? giving away ipad 1 when ipad 2 is coming to the Egyptian market soon.  Apple stops selling old versions once the new is released. Apple is selling ipad2 already and ipad 1 is already moved to legacy products.  What does all this say about the Etisalat offer?? CHEAP. no respect to the customer whatsoever, they want to give something for free and yet they chose a legacy product….such a cheap move when they could have chosen to wait until ipad 2 is here and then do this raffle.  Had they waited it could have been a major marketing hit for them.  Offering something that probably no one will go and buy now is a very bad move and allows room for competitors to  swipe them of, if they go out tomorrow and offer an iphone 4 for free if people mention their name or hashtag more than once!! very bad move on Etisalat’s side.

Then they continue with their twitter abuse campaigns by creating a hashtag  #moretolife and making more raffles with more giveaways and people have to use this hashtag in their tweets to enter the raffle.  And the more you tweet the more you have a chance to win! complete failure I would say because it turned so many people into spammers.  I un-followed someone because he made his account issue automatic tweets on daily basis with this hashtag to have a better chance to win.  This is crazy and inconvenient and annoyed a lot of twitter users.   It also opened the door for some of Etisalat lines users to start talking about their bad experiences with the network and service because they were frustrated by the flood of tweets, so even more image damage to the company.

Furthermore, One twitter user when they started their ipad raffle tweeted on it thinking it was ipad 2, then he realized it is ipad 1 so he stopped and told them that this is too cheap and that they should have waited to offer the ipad 2….NOW THEIR REPLY was amazingly alienating!!! they said:  “we’re sorry you’re dissatisfied. You’ve done everything to qualify for the raffle, but we can remove your name if you like” …. in other words, we will punish you because you’re talking badly about our offer!!! No company could ever intend to damage its image and do a better job than this.

Social media effect is so fast and once you damaged your image it can’t be fixed easily. So an advice for every company think very well before launching a campaign on any social media channel and put your social media channels in the hands of the best of your people and not the weakest!


I am adding this part for everyone who keeps telling me that ipad1 is not a legacy product.  OK I am sorry about that maybe it is not legacy yet, but Apple released ipad2 and it is on sale now. They stopped selling ipad1 on their site and it is known that Apple once released a new version stops selling or supporting the old one.  My point here is before any company launches a marketing campaign they should think “what is the business benefit here?”  Etisalat by this campaign lost a lot but did they gain? nothing from my point of view.  Had they thought well they could have made an offer out of their own products that could have been much better.  And definitely the idea of who tweets more gets a better chance to win is so annoying and alienating.

Also in business the concept of “since they are giving it for free then they can just give anything” is totally wrong.  You give something for free to gain something back and to make your customers feel special and delighted not just for the sake of giving.  Compare the two examples above, Nokia gave away its latest release of mobile phones even before it hits the market and it is an expensive one too.  They gave away 40 sets for free which cost them quite an amount of money but the ROI is worth it.  Etisalat on the other hand chose to give something for free but without having to bear much cost.  Which one gave better effect on the market? We are talking about big companies here and not small businesses so in their case we shouldn’t appreciate anything so long as it is for free…..THIS is my point here and i hope it is clearer now.

16 thoughts on “Social Media Use or Abuse?

  1. Well written piece, but I think people are using the word “legacy” incorrectly.

    The world legacy, when used in technology, means the device is no longer produced and is no longer supported by the original manufacturer. An example of this is the original Apple iPhone. Apple no longer sells it, supports it, it’s not under warranty, and there are no software upgrades for it.

    The gen1 iPad is NOT a legacy product. Why?

    Apple still sells it now on their website, despite the release of the gen2 iPad. Apple still offers a warranty to anyone who buys it and still supports it by offering the same software updates.

    To call the iPad gen1 a legacy product is incorrect, and for a company to giveaway a free anything is at their discretion. Giving away a top-of-the-line gen1 iPad is not cheap, and based on the amount of people spamming my timeline, which is a bit annoying, it’s clear others don’t think it’s cheap either.

    This is the only point I disagree with, otherwise it’s a well written opinion.


    • Thanks a lot for the comment ….But one correction though Apple are not selling ipad 1 on their site anymore and even if they are now very soon they won’t and won’t support it as you said.
      And I always have a point of view in free gifts given from companies…I disagree that it is at their discretion. You have to show respect to your customers even when you’re giving away something for free. It is not about what you give, it is about showing respect and real interest in making your customers feel special. they could have made a very special offer out of their different lines and packages, it would have been better than this.

      Thanks again for your opinion on my post

  2. I totally disagree with you Doha except for the fact that the hashtag #moretolife became a spamming thing more than a marketing tool for Etisalat

    However, ipad 1 is not a “legacy” product. When in the world a product becomes “legacy” after a year of release? It’s sold everywhere 3ady. You can buy it from Apple stores, Best buy..etc! I hope you edit your article to that matter…

    Another thing, Etisalat is a big company, when they buy products, they buy in bulk. Probably they bought a large stock of iPad 1 before the release of iPad 2. It’s not their fault.

    Plus this is a gift. A FREE one. You can NEVER put rules on a free gift. Imagine a friend giving you something and you telling him/her, “too bad, it’s a legacy device”. How would they react? It’s the recipients call to whether accept it (by participating) or not.

    I really respect all of your articles, whether on the blog or in Cilantro magazine, but this article is COMPLETELY biased IMHO.

    PS: send my regards to @MostafaMourad

    • Thanks Korayem for your comment

      But let me clarify something here…When a friend gives me a gift then I am happy and grateful whatever it is ….But with companies it is totally different. The concept of they are giving it free so they can give just anything and customers have to accept it is totally wrong!! are they throwing us a bone to gasp over it or are they doing the marketing campaign for a purpose? do they want to attract customers or is it just for fun??? There has to be a business aim out of it. Etisalat didn’t have any business gain out of this campaign on the contrary they alienated people with the spam effect. So YES in business you have to put rules for a free gift or else they can give you a broom for free and you should be happy??? after all it is free!! no this does not work in business
      They should have asked themselves what is the gain out of this campaign? this is what I meant by my post
      Plus I am never biased, I always write about what is right and what is wrong in business not with or against anyone. And please forgive my ignorance but out of curiosity what is “IMHO”?

      Thanks again for your comment

  3. i totally disagree with u regarding the kind of gifts coz based on what u evaluate the gifts, for you maybe u find it cheap and not suitable , but for others it is a huge thing so evaluation of the items value depend on the ppl, so simply many ppl which joined the campaign find a device cost 5000 or 6000 LE is something they in need to and they can’t buy it!! so i can;t understand how come u just evaluate a gift based only on ur perception!!

    but i’m with u regarding the spamming for me i can find that it is better for the to make the contest for 2 or 3 days and be based on most creative tweets for example or best comment on an Ad,…etc just to create a nice cause t be used in the campaign.
    and the end i respect ur point of view but try to take into ur mind others evaluation not all the ppl can afford a device that cost them min 5000 L.E :).

    • I am not saying the device is cheap Heba …I know it is expensive , I am saying the idea is cheap and doesn’t give a ROI to the company. Many people where ready to dump their Vodafone or Mobinil line and get Etisalat instead had it been ipad2 but for 1 they changed their mind. Don’t judge based on individual opinion, I am talking from a business point of view. Companies should make any marketing campaign worth it and should make it add value to the business. Please read the part I added to the end of the post and you’ll get my point

  4. Lovely article and I agree on almost all of the points. Just like Korayem and Nazi and I don’t agree on the legacy part. Yes, agree that in business considerations are different but at the end u can never find something to satisfy all. U offer ur prize and whoever interested should participate and who is not interested should just leave it! I think the iPad1 is interesting for many since they had all these interactions. In many online campaigns we find stuff we don’t like we just leave them and when we find something interesting we jump on it! That’s it. Again, I loved the analysis and article. Keep up the great work 🙂

    • Thanks a lot Amira for your comment
      Please read the part i added at the end of the post to get my point. Companies especially big ones should think of the business return of any campaign and I don’t mean to satisfy everyone because this will never happen. But what is the ROI? what will the company gain out of this? this is a question that they should have thought of and obviously they didn’t

  5. Giving gifts for free, isnt 100% free. There has to be some strings attached. But consumers should either choose to participate or not. We can’t complain that the gift is cheap or whatever. We can choose to participate or not.

    The campaign itself is dead-wrong to begin with. There is no “real” value behind the campaign either for the fans or Etisalat itself. What’s worse, is that it created a huge spam effect because of people going crazy to get the ipad. Very wrong indeed.

    IMHO (in my humble opinion), your post didn’t really put emphasis on the business rationale as much as it was criticizing Etisalat. It was evident in the way you reflected on their response: ”we’re sorry you’re dissatisfied. You’ve done everything to qualify for the raffle, but we can remove your name if you like” –That’s not a punishment.

  6. I will side with Doha on this.

    It is not about cheapness of a product or even it being a legacy.

    It is not about whether it is valuable for some and valueless for others.

    It is not even about finding an interpretation such as “those who like might participate; others may find something else.”

    These are all valid arguments, to one extent or another, but the main point is somewhere else in my view. Social media, especially of sorts that Etisalat used, is primarily aimed at increasing brand awareness and strenghtening its brand image. Social media campaigns of this type, contrary to mainstream belief, are there in mind to be considered at the moment of purchase/subscription or any other desired action on part of the target audience.

    Etisalat’s image is what suffered by this campaign. Yes ipad1 is valuable and it is expensive and Etisalat might have tried to emtpy its large stock. But first and foremost, its targetted audience might have thought it a cheap or not a very wise trick for the reasons meantioned by Doha. Their image was might have suffered a blow.

    Brand value is in the eye, mind and heart of the beholder, i.e. target audience/customers and it can easily be swayed by tricks like this, not always into a positive side.

    As for Nokia, I loved their E7 event and agreed that they used a claver social media tactique. But as far as I hear now E7 is being a hard sell as it is perceived to be rather expensive, even after sucha nice campaign. Proves a certain point.

    • Thanks a lot for the comment ….exactly my point it is brand image and the value they are getting out of the campaign to the business that they should think of

  7. Etisalat is spamming and the idea of the article is clear regardless what is the meaning of the “legacy” word is, and I think just because of Etisalat, there should be a limit for each one to tweet.

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