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When social media strategies go wrong

Byron Connolly | May 26, 2014
Why IT needs to take social seriously. Plus, five corporate campaigns that failed spectacularly.

4. Fast food fails
In 2009, fast food chain Burger King created a Facebook app called 'Whopper Sacrifice.' Patrons who downloaded the app would receive a free Whopper burger for every 10 people they defriended or 'sacrificed' on Facebook.

Around 234,000 people were defriended during the campaign, which meant that the burger giant was required to give away almost 24,000 Whopper burgers to patrons.

"The worst thing for Burger King - it had the responsibility of telling the 10 friends that they had been defriended because of the Burger King [campaign]," says Yates. "That was a bad outcome for Burger King's brand. They cancelled that very quickly."

In early 2012, McDonald's also took to Twitter, inviting people to share stories about its food using the hashtag #mcdstories. The problem was that people did actually share some rather negative, even nasty stories about the company's food.

To rectify the issue, McDonald's created the website, Our Food Your Questions, which enabled it to better control its message.

But earlier this week, the company was accused of scaring its customers. The image of character named 'Happy', used to promote children's meals, is inducing fear among patrons who have taken to Twitter to pour scorn on the company.

3. Big supermarket shocker
Big supermarket chain Woolworths was its own worst enemy when, in January 2012, it encouraged Facebook users to finish this sentence: "This weekend, I can't wait to..."

The 'fresh food people' received some rather amusing yet undesired responses.

Notable posts included: "This weekend I can't wait to 'go to Woolworths and get priced gouged on 'fresh food'" or "go to my local farmers [sic] market and make sure none of my $$ [sic] go to the Big Two."

2. It's not so luxurious when you're stranded
Qantas was left red-faced in November 2011 when its Twitter campaign invited users to describe their "dream luxury in-flight" experience - using the #QantasLuxury hashtag - for the chance to win a pair of Qantas first-class pyjamas and a toiletries kit.

It was poorly timed. Qantas had grounded its fleet a few weeks earlier, which angered customers who had been left stranded by the airline.

1. Sexism on a stick
In late 2011, ChapStick Lip Balm created a Facebook campaign called "Where do lost ChapSticks go?"

The company posted a strange, some would argue sexist image of a woman reaching over the back of her couch

None

The campaign asked Facebook users to share their thoughts on what explanation should be given to the image.

Not surprisingly, this campaign damaged the brand. ChapStick quickly apologised for using the image.

 

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