When brands and businesses are making their first steps into the big wide social media universe, they may feel that gaining likes and followers is a must and will be looking for ways to create “buzz” around their account or event.
Many may even implement a campaign of getting well known individuals or companies to promote their page and products, a practice that is common place in traditional media and consumers see it as part of the process on those channels. However on social it is seriously frowned upon.
Most social media users still see their timeline as an advertising free zone, and a place to see real opinion and views, not those which have been planned out by a marketing or PR team. Users want to see genuine sentiment about brands and events, allowing them to developing their own feelings, one thing you never want is a follower to feel that the trust between them and the brand has been broken by the use of sly marketing tactics; this can lead to a tidal wave of backlash.
The Fall Out
Backlash which currently the Brit Awards and Mastercard, with their #PricelessSurprises campaign, are seeing after it emerged that in order to gain Press Accreditation to the event; journalists were being asked to partake in an orchestrated Twitter campaign, composed of pre-written tweets and briefs on how articles should be written around the hashtag campaign. Along with that, in order to gain accreditation, journalists have been asked to share Mastercard tweets during the event and link to their social sites after the event.
It is definitely worth doing a quick search of the #PricelessSurprises hashtag and viewing a few blog posts that have sprung up about the backlash. Before the event you can bet the Brits and Mastercard would have been delighted to see the hashtag trending. Well they got their wish but it’s not exactly for the positive reasons they were hoping for.
Snickers are another brand who saw a similar backlash when it emerged it was using celebrities timelines to help promote their “You’re not you when you’re hungry” campaign. The campaign saw timelines from the likes of Katie Price, Rio Ferdinand and Amir Kahn, have strange tweets appearing. This got users questioning whether timelines had been hacked, and prompted genuine concern about the individuals along with creating a bit of discussion. That was until the stars in questions then tweeted a pre-prepared tweet of the marketing slogan, accompanied with a picture of them with the chocolate bar.
Once again this resulted in a backlash from Twitter followers annoyed at celebrities using their status and follower counts to earn a little extra and promote the brand and also at the brand for insulting the intelligence of users with underhand marketing.
Long Term Relationships
Social should be used by brands, individuals and companies to build long term relationships with its followers, not as a tool for quick wins, you can guarantee that in both of the above instances negative sentiment about the brands involved would have increased. If you try to falsely build your brands sentiment on social you can guarantee the users will find out resulting in a negative backlash.
Using such a short term tactic may look nice in reports with a short term spike in follows, mentions & likes etc. but is it really worth risking long term relationships where bigger rewards can be reaped.
If you want to build true sentiment then get engaged with your followers, get involved with conversations and start building relationships, you will see a natural development of the account over time that will be much more beneficial.