5 Lessons from a Social Media Campaign Gone Horribly Wrong

Jim Louderback of Revision3.com has a great article up at JackMyers.com entitled “Murphy-Goode Wines Social Media Campaign Goes Horribly Wrong” about the companies recent trip to the Internet woodshed over their handling of I-celeb Martin Sargent during a recent online spokesperson ballot.

While the specifics are generally quite funny…Jim gives us an excellent list of 5 takeaways that any of us who might consider a Social Media campaign ought to commit to heart:

Respect the Wisdom of the Crowds: If you’re going to solicit entries from the internet, and then ask people to vote, then you need to at least pretend to abide by their selection. Murphy-Goode built a framework that would have let them finesse this. All they had to do was put the top ten vote getters into their top 50. Even if they had zero intention of ever giving Martin or the other nine a job, they should have – at a minimum – given them some recognition for winning the popular vote.

Know Your Web Stars: You may have never heard of Martin Sargent. But he’s an extremely powerful web celebrity – both because of his own following, and his influential friends. If John Stewart, Tom Brady or Britney Spears had entered – or even Wine Spectator editor James Laube — you can be sure they would have been treated with kid gloves. Martin got snubbed and snubbing sucks. But Martin was powerful enough to get a (well deserved) revenge.

Monitor Constantly: While running a social media campaign, keep a close eye on what the social-sphere is saying about your brand. Use Twitter search toolsTweet DeckTrendrrbacktype – among others – to keep track of how your campaign is doing. And when you notice something going awry…

Fix it Fast: As soon as “Martin-Gate” began to spread around the web, Murphy-Goode should have jumped in and fixed it. Perhaps they could have added a 51st finalist to the list. Or maybe they could have expanded the competition to end up with two winners, a winery choice and a people’s choice. Rapid action could have saved this campaign. Even an apology and am “I’m Sorry” would have gone a long way to repairing the winery’s reputation. Instead, company representatives responded with lame platitudes like “You’re too famous” and called Martin overqualified for the job. That just served to fan the flames – particularly because one of the top ten finalists was Rachel Reenstra, former Animal Planet and HGTV show host.

Don’t be half-assed: But here’s the biggest slap to the face of everyone who created, watched, voted and even paid attention to this online kerfuffle. As the story got out, it turned out that some of the candidates for the temporary position were actually sourced by recruiters, who told them that “the online votes were relatively unimportant.” That’s the worst thing that ever could have gotten out. Today’s engaged social network users are no less passionate than the millions of Iranians that flooded the street when their votes were ignored. And they’re far more connected as well. Be honest, be authentic and be real. Murphy-Goode, alas, tried to pull a fast one. But on the internet, it’s extremely hard to be opaque.

I think the big thing here is this: if you’re going to do a campaign that is designed to look and feel “democratic” you better be prepared to accept whatever the results from the people are.  Otherwise you’re going to have a lot of people feeling very disenfranchised, and in the end, that’s worse than not having done the campaign at all.

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