As an advocate of how social media can be effective when incorporated into a corporation’s larger marketing program, it is painful for me to see when companies do it wrong.
A recent example of this was Marsh supermarkets and its Facebook Coupon. Marsh sent a $10 coupon to their Facebook Fans thinking that they would forward it to a few people – the result, mass produced coupons and some being sold for individual profit… Question here, what is the going rate for a $10 coupon?
As a result Marsh has decided not to honor the coupons resulting in an expected backlash. A Marsh statement reveals that this is one of the company’s initial initiatives to use social media as marketing.
This should serve as a lesson to any corporation jumping into social media (be it Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc) – make sure you have a solid plan in place, and like all marketing initiatives think through the campaign completely before launching it to the public. Something KFC hopefully learned from the Oprah debacle.
Social Media is hot, and it is smart for corporations to get in on it now… but only after you have decided what your desired outcomes will be. I think the Marsh coupon idea was a smart idea, but in my opinion they should have limited it to the actual Fans.
I don’t think Marsh should suspend future Social Media plans, but I think they need to realize the power of viral before launching the next campaign. I also think this should serve as a lesson for any other company wanting to jump the gun without having a plan in place.