It can certainly be argued that 2014 is the year that social media truly came of age. As Facebook continually tinkers with its ever-mysterious Newsfeed algorithm, Snapchat captures ever more dodgy micro videos of prepubescent tweens and teens all over the US and Western Europe and Instagram’s star continues to rise, marketers have been kept very busy trying to keep up with this constantly changing landscape.
So as 2014 draws to a close we take a nostalgic look back at the year that was in social media. Who were the brands that were shining examples of social media gold or had the unfortunate distinction of experiencing social media #epicfail? We take a look at four examples of brands that got it right and four that should probably go back to drawing board for some deep introspection, yes folks, it’s that serious.
The demographics of the United States are irreversibly changing and what characteristically defined the traditional concept of the “American Family” has fundamentally changed. An old-fashioned graham cracker brand beautifully captured this changing paradigm in their “Wholesome Families” campaign. The campaign featured a TV ad that shows a two-dad family, a rocker family, a single dad, an interracial family and a military family with a military wife of Arabic descent.
The TV ad was followed up by short one and half-minute documentary style videos on Honeymaid’s social media channels featuring each family’s story. Anticipating the negative backlash that the campaign was likely to elicit in some quarters, Honeymaid released a follow-up spot on social media that directly deals with the hateful comments Honeymaid received on their social media channels by turning them into a piece of art.
The One Rand Man
We seldom think about the money we spend on a daily basis until we have no more left towards the end of the month. This obviously has negative consequences on our ability to save. During National Savings Month South African insurance company Sanlam decided to embark on a fascinating social experiment in which a regular middle class guy living the typical middle class lifestyle would receive his entire salary entirely in one Rand coins. The question was, would this help him feel more connected to his money and more aware of his spending if he saw each physical rand that he was spending. His spending habits were then chronicled on Sanlam’s social media channels as well as on his own Twitter profile. The results were fascinating.
P&G’s Always #LikeAGirl
The phrase “you throw like a girl” has always been meant as a derogatory term meant as an affront at one’s masculinity or at the least one’s ability to hurtle an object through the air in a suitably masculine manner. P&G brand, “Always” set out to challenge this derogatory stereotype by creating videos in which they asked adults and a young boy to throw, run or fight like a girl. They all make fairly stereotyped feeble attempts, however when prepubescent girls are asked to do the same thing the results are very different. The young girls make confident strong efforts. The message being that girls’ confidence starts to take a serious hit during puberty and Always thinks that this should change. Needless to say, this is a message that resonated widely with the video achieving 31 million views in its first week.
V/Line Guilt Trip
Parents living in small country towns around Australia find it tough getting their kids that have headed off to life in the big city, to come home for a visit. So V/Line created a pre-paid train ticket that parents could send to their children along with a healthy dose of guilt as an extra incentive to seal the deal.
Parents were also provided with how-to guides detailing the most effective ways to guilt their kids into visiting together with YouTube videos that demonstrated the most effective tactics for making their children feel guilty. Not only did this campaign win big at Cannes but it also resulted in a 15% boost in ticket sales and increased goodwill towards the brand.
The not so greats
DiGiorno’s inappropriate use of #WhyIStayed
Earlier this year a video of NFL player Ray Rice assaulting his then fiancée Janay Palmer Rice in a hotel elevator became the subject of Internet infamy. Following Janay Palmer Rice’s decision to stay with Ray Rice, the hash tag #whyistayed, exploring issues of gender violence with women sharing their own stories of domestic violence, began trending on Twitter. In what one can only imagine was an uninformed decision, DiGiorno Pizza tried to join the conversation, tweeting “#WhyIStayed You had pizza.”
The backlash was nothing short of instantaneous and within minutes DiGiornos had deleted the Tweet and posted an apology claiming they didn’t know what the hash tag was about before they tweeted. Schoolboy error know doubt, however to their credit they also responded in a personalized and sincere manner to dozens of Twitter users that were offended by the Tweet.
US Airways’ NSFW tweet
While responding to a fairly routine customer service tweet from a customer on Twitter, US Airways included an incredibly inappropriate picture. The tweet was deleted about an hour later followed by an apology from the airline claiming that someone had been trying to flag the image and accidentally copied and pasted it in the customer service tweet.
With electricity outages continuing to be the proverbial thorn in the side of South Africans Joburg Power decided to take to Twitter to keep Johannesburg’s residents informed about the city’s schedule of power outages. The result was a tweet with an unfortunately named PDF attachment that left the organization with PR challenge on its hands.
Afrihost’s radio silence
It’s a well-known fact that internet down times are an unfortunate reality and they will happen from time to time. For any Internet service provider when this happens all they can do is keep their customers informed as they attempt to get the service working again. This is a lesson South African ISP Afrihost was clearly yet to learn.
On the 6 December, Afrihost users in Cape Town noticed that they were unable to access the internet with the exception of a few websites including Facebook and Gmail. Naturally customers took to Afrihost’s social media channels to query what was going on.
For the entire day of the sixth and the morning of the seventh Afrihost’s social media channels had no replies for its customers. It certainly didn’t help that when customers called the call center they were greeted by a recorded message with instructions that yielded no helpful results and then a dial tone.
Finally after over 24 hours of silence Afrihost posted a message to its Facebook page. It turns out that it only deals with social media queries on weekdays during office hours. I tweeted the easiest piece of advice I can think to the team, time will tell if it’s ignored or heeded.