One of the hardest lessons that marketers and retailers can learn in social media is when a promotion goes awry. You launch with the best of intentions–certain that a coupon or a discount will get you a whole bunch of fans–but somewhere along the line, something goes wrong. And it doesn’t take long for your new fans to become not-so-friendly.
Walgreens last week offered a free 5×7 photobook to anyone who becomes a Facebook fan by Oct. 2. As of today, Walgreens has over 200,000 fans. But when it told its new fans in an update on its Facebook wall that the free photobook actually will come with a $1.99 shipping and handling fee, the fans were not amused. They didn’t hesitate to voice their complaints on Walgreens’ Facebook page.
Sara Lee Deli, meanwhile, has been offering its new Facebook fans a $3-off coupon. But scores of them have had problems receiving the e-mail coupon, or printing it, and again, they have not been shy about expressing their frustration on Sara Lee’s Facebook page.
A similar thing happened to Starbucks a few months ago, when the company promoted its new line of pastries with a coupon offer on Facebook and other social outlets. Some stores ran out of pastries, and some consumers didn’t realize they needed to bring the coupon with them. They vented their frustrations on Facebook, Twitter and Starbucks’ own social media site.
The lesson to be learned here is that marketers and retailers must make sure a social media promotion is completely synced, both online and offline. It doesn’t take much for things to go awry. And if things do start going south, it is critical to respond positively–and quickly–and turn the negative energy back into goodwill.