Social Marketing DOs and DON’Ts

Sharpie's Instagram feed is full of sharpie-made drawings and doodles.

Sharpie’s Instagram feed is a social marketing DO!

There’s no doubt that social marketing is taking over a large part of the efforts that used to be covered offline. Of course, we will always have TV commercials, billboards, and print ads (assuming we still have magazines), but considering so much of our time is spent in front of a computer screen; it seems that most every brand has a Twitter account that posts a continuous stream of content. When done right, social marketing can be bold and original. For example, take the Dove Campaign For Real Beauty’s Evolution video which has well over 15.7 million views to date. However, not every social media marketing campaign has been as successful as Dove’s. Some are bad, some are worse, and some are still up for debate. Behold, the Dos and Don’ts of social marketing:

DON’T be Offensive or Insensitive

It’s fairly self explanatory, but it’s safe to say you don’t want to shock your social constituency with uncouth, vulgar, or otherwise tasteless posts on Twitter and Facebook. Or on Tumblr, Instagram, Pinterest… you get the point.

The Onion’s Inapropro Oscars Tweet

I’m sure we’ve all heard about this incident by now: a staff member at satirical publication The Onion tweeted something very vulgar directed at 9 year old oscar nominee and cutie Quvenzhane Wallis. While The Onion’s tone is satirical and dry, and the tweet was presumably meant to be an “obvious” joke (I mean, Q is so darn adorable with her little puppy purses); given that the word is just so taboo, my immediate response was “did they really expect people to not freak out?” That awkward moment when someone tells a terrible joke . . .

Celeb Boutique’s Crass “Aurora” Tweet

UK-based online fashion retailer, Celeb Boutique pulled a Kenneth Cole- esque no-no last summer when its attempt to cheekily link the Twitter trend #Aurora (yes, that one, from the mass movie theater shooting) to their Kim Kardashian-inspired “Aurora” dress. The result was a backlash of tweets calling the brand out for being clueless, untimely, and tasteless. The lesson: always look into WHY something is trending; it’s as simple as clicking the trending topic.

Ragu’s Dad Dilemma

The pasta (ra)gurus made a social media splash when they launched their “Dad Cooks Dinner” campaign that essentially bashed Dads for their lack of culinary skills. As if the video wasn’t bad enough, the brand bombarded Dad bloggers on Twitter with a link to the video and asking if their cooking is kid-approved. Not only was Ragu criticized for using anti-feminist rhetoric that basically reinforced the stereotype that only women can/should cook, but they also shut out a good chunk of their audience. (BTW as someone who was raised by a father whom she’s tried to convince to open a restaurant on multiple occasions, let me tell you that Dads absolutely can be fabulous cooks without female supervision!)

DO Keep it Engaging

Engagement is the spine of social marketing, right? So every interaction brands have via social media needs to engage their audience, otherwise there really is no point in having a social media presence. 

Starbucks’s Beautiful Facebook Imagery

Starbucks uses their Facebook profile to let customers know about new drinks, limited-time offers, or to connect with customers in specific regions. Their social

Starbucks drink looking delicious.

DO! Starbucks drink looking delicious.

marketing team knows that images are key to drawing the attention of customers, and I think it’s safe to say that most Starbucks drinkers are going to be lifetime customers. From an offer to add $5 to an existing Sbux gift card, to a post about their new hazelnut-flavored macchiato, Starbucks always keeps it visually pleasing.

Honda’s Pintermission CampaignHonda

To market its updated CRV model, Honda’s social marketing team took to Pinterest and  implemented a “pintermission:” a 24 hour break from Pinterest to actually do the things we pin. Honda gave 5 influencers (in this case, people with tons of followers) $500 each to use on that day. The campaign was a hit. As PR Daily states, “target customers for the CR-V are young people on the edge of adulthood’s big milestones—marriage, children, etc.—and young people plan those milestones on Pinterest.” Badabing, badaboom.

Aladdin Chocolate Box’s Polling

Apparently in Sweden, having an Aladdin Chocolate Box is a Christmastime tradition. When the company decided to introduce a new flavor a few years ago, it meant that a traditional flavor was getting the boot. The company put it up to the public to decide which flavors would be saved. Dubbed “Save Christmas,” the massive social marketing campaign was a huge success; the box got more votes than the the most voted for candidate in the Swedish election for European Parliament in 2009. Crazy, right? What’s even crazier is that the brand experienced a 26% holiday season sales increase from the previous year! Ahh, the power of engagement.

DO Find a Voice

A company’s social media managers are always told to develop a voice for the brand. With every company and their mothers on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest, there has to be a way to make yourself stand out. Some brands find their voice seamlessly by knowing their audience. Others have a trickier task at hand.

Sharpie gets Creative

A few times a week, Sharpie “eats its own dogfood” by posting Instagram photos of fun, quirky drawings made with Sharpie permanent markers. An aesthetically pleasing way of showcasing its products’ capabilities, Sharpie’s social marketing people definitely know what their Instagram audience want to see.

Lululemon Becomes a Lifestyle Brand

If you just looked at their website, you’d think ultra-hip Lululemon was just a fitness clothing brand. If you take a look at their Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram, you’ll see that Lululemon is more than just a brand; it’s a lifestyle. Despite elusive sales and price tags upwards of $100, Lululemon-heads continue to flock to company’s stores and to its social media profiles in an almost cult-like manner. By offering Pinterest boards that are yoga-focused, inspirational, or otherwise connect pinners with Lululemon’s Ambassadors, followers get a glimpse of what the Lululemon lifestyle really looks like.

Charmin’s Charming(?) Campaign

Charmin's campaign is as cute as it is gross.

DO?! Charmin’s campaign–equal parts cute and gross.

Perhaps I’m biased because I’ve always found Charmin’s TV ads a little awkward. For as long as I can remember, they’ve been pretty upfront about the business that goes down in the bathroom – and that’s fine, they’re a toilet paper brand. But take a look at their Twitter feed. Is that taking it to a new level that flirts with TMI? The Charmin voice is kooky, silly, and certainly not afraid to make bathroom jokes. I admire their desire to be humorous, but it’s tweets like “So, we had a lot of coffee and oatmeal for breakfast today. Any guesses as to what time we’ll #tweetfromtheseat?” with follow up tweets like “For those of you keeping track, it was at 12:23.” that bother me. Am I being too coy?


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