Consider this!

Over a period of months, you have been preparing for the single most creative idea your marketing team / agency has come up with in years to hold a pre-Black Friday Sneak Peek Event, strictly on Facebook, where you can generate some viral buzz.  You’ve worked with your IT team to make sure that they can handle the amount of traffic that you think you could have and firmly believe you can beat your competition online.

You get approval from management to offer 500 90% off coupons – 100 each for 5 specific products. You also get approval for another 4,500 20% off coupons as part of your promotion.

On Thursday, November 4, you prep your campaign with huge success, with over 10,000 people RSVP’d for the event online and 1,000s of comments on every post that you have prior to the event.

The event begins at 12:01 AM. Users on the East Coast have stayed up past midnight to be a part of your historic Social Media campaign. Your first post shows the first product as part of the promotion, a 5-quart mixer. 3 minutes later, you post the coupon code for 90% off of the product, and tell users that the first 100 to use it online will receive the offer.

Within just minutes, your website is bombarded with so much traffic, your entire website / servers /etc. crash and before you can issue the second product. You issue a Facebook post, apologizing to users that, even with significant planning, you must reschedule for the following day. To the tune of close to 2,000 angry comments, you sit, after midnight, with egg on your face from a failed campaign.

Last night, my wife and I experienced this marketing effort with Lowe’s pre-Black Friday Sneak Peek Event. You can view the fallout here.

From my point of view, this was a great Social Media experiment gone wrong.

Was it a great idea? Yes.

Could it have been executed better? Hindsight is 20/20 but most likely, yes.

The great thing about Social Media is the ability to create campaigns like this via someone’s home PC. To have someone sitting at their home computer, hitting refresh every 5 seconds just to be part of your brand experience that you have created. If the campaign is pulled off, users will talk about throughout the holiday season and you’ll see both your brand awareness and sales rise. If the campaign fails, users will continue to participate but for those that were there, in the moment, burnout. Some fickle participants will even go as far as to “nay-say” your brand into the dirt, simply for poor marketing/IT execution. So, you could say your campaign was so successful, it failed.

Over the years, we’ve seen a number of great companies and great ideas go awry. No matter the channel, things can go wrong; however, with Social Media, the opportunity for users to scream about the problems they have can become very loud.

Hey, but at least you now know what they are yelling about.

Let us know your thoughts by commenting in our blog below.

One Comment

  1. Fear. This is the exact reasons that many companies choose not to try this kind of thing. They take the safe / conservative approach. All marketing events require some act of faith because companies spend money in expectations that their return will be greater than what they spent. Yet the risk of failure is always present and we have to fail in order to learn and grow right? Isn’t this what we teach our kids?

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