Turning a Viral Campaign Nightmare into a Win-Win Situation

6 years ago
This article was written by a member of the SheKnows Community. It has not been edited, vetted or reviewed by our editorial staff, and any opinions expressed herein are the writer’s own.

We all want our campaigns to go "viral" But what do we do when this happens? Bob Speyer from the Web Success Team offers a few take-aways that will make you look like a star.

As poet Robert Frost once penned, “The best laid schemes of mice and men often go awry”. This truism is as relevant today as in Frost’s day, particularly when dealing with human nature — and more specifically social media and online marketing promotions.

Roll the Dice
Online marketing campaigns are like playing Vegas craps with loaded dice. You want them to come up 7s but sometimes you have to make 6 the hard way. In designing and pushing out an online marketing campaign, what happens if your campaign goes viral? It could be your biggest hope or your biggest challenge.

I want it now ~ Viral Nightmare


The following is a true scenario of a campaign that unexpectedly went viral and what was done to “save-face” for the client:

The Best Laid Plan
A client offered a free trial sample of their product to anyone who “liked” their Facebook page. The rationale was that if they tried it many would buy it. To entice them further, once they clicked through to offer their mailing details, they could also purchase product at a 25% discount.

Reputation Management
This promotion was rolled out while attending an industry trade show. The offer was advertised through Twitter, Facebook and to bloggers. In two days, the offer went viral and the client had over 10,000 trial size orders to fill. To compound the problem, the website server crashed as it couldn’t handle the traffic. The fallout was that there were many “fans” that were upset and posted negative comments on the client’s Facebook page.

The online marketing team swung into action and quickly responded to the disgruntled by offering them the promised sample, a free book and of course a discount on future purchases and an email address where they could address their concerns. Here are a few examples of follow-up interactions:

Facebook Fan: “Just wanted to say thank you for recognizing the error with the link and being so willing to fix it. I’ve seen other companies disregarding their customers, but not you. The says quite a lot.”

Client Response: “Sara – we know and apologize :( . The response was bigger than we imagined. Please send us your mailing details in an email to info@yourclient.com and we’ll take care of you!

Lessons and TAKE-A-WAYS

1. Make sure your server can handle the increased traffic.
2. Have a back-up plan should your campaign go viral
3. For Facebook promotion, have a Page A (offer) and a Page B (counter offer)
4. Page not found (404 page) with a proper apology or offer to appease your followers
5. Make sure your Google Analytics are properly set up to monitor where the traffic came from, who came and who they are (like couponers looking for a deal, who are not necessarily your target market).
6. Press releases to address the problem.
7. Apologies ready and give-a-ways to appease the squeaking wheels. Offering a public Facebook apology can be a good thing. People appreciate they are recognized, their complaints validated and that they will be taken care of.

In Social Media Marketing, expect the unexpected and be prepared to take immediate action. With a little effort, you can turn a potential marketing nightmare into a win-win for consumer and company.
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Janette Leon-Speyer

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