Be Careful What You Promote
Be Careful What You Promote

Social media in the B2B channel marketing landscape is still an emerging field. Most companies and co-marketers want to use social media to expand their marketing efforts, but have little experience in doing so.

While many are aware of the benefits of having new low-cost ways to push their marketing messages, many are unaware of the dangers and how easily a social media marketing effort can go horribly wrong.

To see what might trip you up and to avoid problems, it can be helpful to look at the B2C marketplace, in which companies have been experimenting with social media marketing considerably longer than most B2B companies.

That way, our industry can learn from mistakes and move forward with our own efforts with considerably less risk.

A good example comes from what is now known as the McDonald’s Fiasco.

Here’s what happened: McDonald’s wanted to use Twitter to create positive viral awareness for their brand. So they uploaded brief, positive stories about eating at and working for McDonald’s, and used the hashtag #McDStories.

What they didn’t stop to think about was that not all stories have a happy ending. Within hours, thousands of people were posting their own McDonald’s “stories” using the hashtag. Most were negative, mean and spiteful, including one guy who wrote, “I once got food poisoning from eating a Big Mac” and another who posted, “McDonald’s is where dreams of being healthy and fit go to die.”

Obviously, this is not the effect that McDonald’s was looking for. But, what can a B2B channel marketer learn from this example?

It’s pretty simple actually – think through your hashtags very, very carefully before you use them. Is there any way they could be turned into a negative? Remember, as soon as you post something on Twitter it is “out in the wild,” and you’ll have no control of how you are retweeted or what is done with your hashtag.

Ask people in your office if they can think of any way a hashtag you want to use can be turned against you. Throw it at your IT guys and see what they think. Ask your children.

Only when you are sure that your hashtag and message can’t be turned against you should you launch your campaign.