ChapStick Latest Example of Failed Social Media Campaign

Just saw this article from Adweek.com, and it’s a perfect example of what NOT to do with your social media campaign. The full story can be found here, on Adweek’s site, and we’ve included a few relevant paragraphs below to give you an idea of what went wrong with ChapStick’s latest ad campaign.

First: the back story, as told by Adweek:

“Here’s the play-by-play. ChapStick posts weird image on Facebook of a woman, ass in the air, looking for her ChapStick behind a couch. Blogger is disgusted, blogs about it. Blogger tries to reply on Facebook too. ChapStick deletes her comments. Others object to the image. ChapStick deletes their comments. ChapStick’s ads with the line “Be heard at Facebook.com/ChapStick” start to look foolish. People keep commenting. ChapStick keeps deleting. People get angry. ChapStick gets worried. The image isn’t even that big of a deal—it’s ChapStick’s reaction to the criticism that galls. “What asses,” people say of ChapStick (get it?). People start commenting about why they can’t see their old comments. ChapStick can’t keep up with all the deleting. Comments are getting through, and they’re nasty. (People who aren’t even fans of the brand can comment nowadays, of course.)
And on top of all that unhappy business, the blogger who originally tried to comment on ChapStick’s wall without success created her own fan page, titled “Butt Seriously Chapstick” to hold a conversation about the brand’s disappointing ad.

What happened, ChapStick?

This company made a classic mistake that any major brand in a sticky situation might: they silenced their fans.
Worried that their brand would take a serious hit, and rattled by the negativity coming through on their fan page, ChapStick deleted all of their fans’ comments, rather than allowing their page to do what it is supposed to do – offer fans a way to talk about ChapStick’s products, offer feedback, and share experiences. In fact, despite the banner underneath the ad that said “Be heard at Facebook.com/chapstick,” the company was not prepared to actually let fans respond.
Unfortunately, this approach backfired: the more comments ChapStick deleted, the angrier the people posting became.
A better solution: though more painful than covering up the issue and simply pretending the mess never happened, the right thing to do in this situation is to acknowledge the people who are offended immediately. It’s human to make mistakes, but it takes some courage to admit you’re wrong – especially if you are a well-established, successful, and very visible brand. Allowing angry fans to post their complaints is tough – but if your company works to provide a quick solution, these comments should not go on long.

The resolution:

“ChapStick has finally responded—deleting the offending post (it’s gone from the ChapStick website, too) and adding a new Facebook post with a weird semi-apology. ‘We see that not everyone likes our new ad, and please know that we certainly didn’t mean to offend anyone!’ the post says. ‘Our fans and their voices are at the heart of our new advertising campaign, but we know we don’t always get it right. We’ve removed the image and will share a newer ad with our fans soon!'” (-Adweek)

The lesson:

Companies need to be constantly vigilant.
The good name of your brand depends on your timely and responsible service. This does not stop when your product is sold; it continues on in the form of follow-up inquiries to make sure customers are satisfied, in consistent monitoring of online sites to see what others are saying about your brand at any given time, and most importantly, it is seen in your immediate response to customer feedback. Negative feedback spreads like wildfire, so stay on top of your ratings and be a part of the conversation!
Don’t blame your fans. Don’t shrug off the problem.
Listen. Acknowledge. Address.
Your fans will thank you, and so will your brand!

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Meghan Ingram
MARKIT Group Staff
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About MARKIT Group

MARKIT Group is a full-service traditional and digital marketing and public relations firm with an emphasis on social media, reputation management and monitoring, as well as brand management. Headquartered in Bonita Springs, Fla., with offices in New York, Pittsburgh and Charleston, S.C. www.markit-group.com.
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