Don’t Let Your Viral Marketing Make You Sick
- AUTHOR Dan Appleman
- December 17, 2013
- 2 Comments
In the early days of the Internet, I was involved in helping a number of companies establish their online presence. I was, of course, focused mostly on the implementation side, but that didn’t mean I was ignorant of the overall goals. Customers would sometimes come to me and ask me to implement an online forum, at which point more often than not I would tell them no – that they really didn’t want an online forum.
I explained to them that unlike their website, a forum allowed customers to talk back and to talk to each other. The last thing they would want is a forum with no activity, or worse, a forum full of unanswered gripes about their company and its products. Proper use of a forum demands constant monitoring, including rapid response to complaints and ongoing posts by the company (including posts by developers or executives and others who are not part of the marketing organization). In other words, the real cost of supporting a forum was not implementing the forum – it was implementing the ongoing engagement with customers on the forum.
Today the challenges are greater. It’s easy to think of Facebook and Twitter and other social media outlets as great tools to reaching out to customers and generating leads, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. With them comes the obligation to stay engaged, often in real-time, or your best planned marketing campaign might blow up in your face.
I recently experienced this first hand in my attempt to purchase a Moto X phone on Cyber-Monday. Motorola had done a great job promoting their Cyber-Monday deal. But as soon as the day came round, their systems couldn’t handle it. But it wasn’t just a technology failure – it was a marketing systems failure, because throughout the day, while numerous people tweeted and posted their frustration, there was almost no word from Motorola about the issue beyond stating the obvious – that there was a problem. As a result, a great viral marketing campaign became more like a virus – with potential customers venting their frustration and announcing their decision to buy competitive products
Marketing science and analytics are great and they are important, but never forget that those numbers represent real people. If you don’t have a mechanism to engage with them directly – to provide great individual customer service – your marketing may end up doing more harm than good.
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