Required history for anyone considering online marketing

Jeremiah Owyang’ post on A Chronology of Brands that Got Punk’d by Social Media should be required reading for all marketers seeking to venture online.

Some of the issues in these marketing disasters include:

  • lack of openness & authenticity
  • just not getting the community & what made sense to them
  • not getting that there is often a community out there
  • that the consumers were able to talk back about the campaign
  • the message did not resonate positively with the community
  • the message annoyed the crap out of the community & galvanised them into some kind of action
  • the message or brand got subverted and used to further another cause (e.g. brandjacking)

What has changed & what do we need to do?

The answers are pretty simple.

  • Authenticity and transparency are key – be open, tell the truth.
  • It is getting harder to keep secrets with mobile devices and camera everywhere – own up to bad stuff, follow good crisis management principles (NB: opens pdf Principles of Crisis Management in a Viral Age).
  • Bad behaviour and bad products get outed very quickly these days – develop rules of engagement for staff so they know what is acceptable behaviour, if bad stuff happens own up. I am a Civil Servant shows how rules of engagement can be done.
  • Consumers can now share their displeasure and mobilize fellow consumers quite easily – if consumers voice  their anger engage with them, listen to their concerns, and don’t be defensive.
  • If you annoy people it can go around the world in minutes via channels like Twitter (refer Motrin Moms for great example of this) – so monitor reputation online as a matter of course so you are aware of what’s going on.

The success stories – like Dell moving from ‘Dell Hell‘ to ‘Dell Community‘ are the result of hard and consistent work, dedicated resources and a willingness to embrace openness and authenticity.

It is really worthwhile to learn from the experience of others before dipping a toe into the somewhat murky waters of social media.