Twitter campaigns are tricky to engineer due to their ability to run wild in any direction. A brilliant example of a Twitter campaign driven into the ditch is E.L. James’ Q&A on her recent #FiftyShades fame, which she launched on Twitter almost a month ago. The hashtag #AskELJames gained the number two spot trending on Twitter worldwide thanks to quick witted responses promoting the campaign in the wrong direction. Some contributions to the campaign's success were:
Anti E.L James accounts such as @50shadesabuse, @50shadesisabuse @fiftyshadesofshit popped up and picked up speed through the popularity of the author’s campaign hashtag. Evidently E.L James' marketing team didn't think that an open Twitter campaign might bash their brand instead of promote it.
Another campaign that went terribly wrong was Sea World's Twitter Q&A during which the hashtag #AskSeaWorld was boycotted by animals activists who used it to create awareness of the company's reputation of practicing animal cruelty. “When are you going to close already?” asked one Twitter user.
The message from these failed Twitter campaigns is simple: Maintain control over the direction of your social media campaign.
You want honest feedback on your brand and to promote a buzz, but how do you know that your brand’s Twitter attempt won't go south? You don’t. You can however do your best to steer it in an effective direction by using a tested template:
Broadcast a vote: Create a buzz and engage loyal customers by passing on the decision making power to them for something as simple as the name of a new product. Bragging rights sounds like a sweet deal to many.
Prompt exposure with a bribe: Domino’s Pizza introduced the hashtag #letsdolunch to customers, prompting them to spread the branded phrase with the promise of a reduction in the price of their pizza for the day - according to how many people tweeted by noon.
Everybody wants to be a model: Offering ordinary folks a chance to be under a partial spotlight is a generally effective prompt to get them to advertise your brand. Marc Jacobs offered the chance for their fans to become the new face of their favourite brand by simply tweeting a picture of themselves wearing the clothes under the hashtag #CastMeMarc.
Start a conversation: Taco Bell surpassed its competitors' social media followings in the most genuine way - interacting with their customers on the subject of anything other than their brand. Using hashtags such as "#talkaboutyourcrush", the giant corporation humanized their image which resulted in spectacular customer engagement totaling 3x more than its competitor Burger Kings'.
Social media campaigns are extremely transparent and easily impressionable by the general public. When an ordinary person voices their opinion, instead of sitting quietly in an anonymous comment box, it is broadcasted publicly and built upon by hundreds of other strong opinions. For this reason, a social media campaign should never be left open to run free.