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:
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.