Many consider 2010 to be the year of "social media." It is also the year that many large corporations had major social media blunders. Some were the result of over reaction to social media attacks by organizations like Greenpeace (see the Nestlé case study below). In addition, Greenpeace effectively used Dove's own social media marketing campaign against them to pressure the parent company Unilever to reduce the use of palm oil from Indonesia, which destroys the rain forest (details below). Other corporations needed no help in shooting themselves in the foot. Perhaps the biggest social media disaster (not to mention ecological disaster) in 2010 was BP (British Petroleum) botched social media and search engine marketing campaigns in reaction to their massive oil spill in the Gulf. Imagine asking for help using social media platforms like YouTube, then turning off the comment feature! Naturally, the social Web did not take these types of patent attempts at manipulation laying down (for more, read "The Counter BP Social Media Campaign").
Of course, P&G’s PR response to the backlash against the introduction of a new Pamper diaper that may cause rashes is the quintessential example of breaking the Prime Directive of social media marketing: be honest and transparent. In an attempt to quash the panic about the new diaper, P&G "recruited" four influential "mommy bloggers" with a trip to Cincinnati to meet with company experts for a briefing, and then these new advocates for the product started blogging positive reviews, without being completely transparent about their compensation. Indeed, these bloggers may be violating Federal Trade Commission (FTC) laws regarding endorsements and testimonials. Worse yet, it appears that some of the posts may have been written for them to nothing more than well crafted propaganda.
Even Southwest Airlines, known for its social media savvy, got taste of what happens when you of lapse in customer service in throwing celebrity Kevin Smith off a plane for being too fat to fly in one seat. Smith's Tweets about the incident were not only widely read and hilarious, but a PR nightmare for the airlines (see last link for the scoop).
To learn more about some of the bigger social media marketing blunders of 2010, check out these resources:
- Lessons Learned from the Nestlé Social Media Crisis
- Dove Onslaught(er)
- BP Launches 'Aggressive' Social Media Campaign but Disables Comments from Users Who Don't 'Like' It
- The Counter BP Social Media Campaign
- P&G throws more cash at the Pampers Dry Max mess
- Gap's Logo Redesign Snafu Snowballs With Social-Media Blunder
- A Wet Noodle for Pampers Dry Max
- Southwest Airlines: To Fat to Fly Social Media Blunder