Note: I actually use both T-Mobile and Verizon and honestly I personally have no preference. This post is just a personal commentary on this particular social media marketing campaign.
Yesterday was a day that will live in infamy for T-Mobile, Verizon, and any other company looking to sponsor a Hashtag. I just happened to notice the day's "Sponsored Hashtag" Trend to be T-Mobile's #NeverSettleForVerizon campaign. Apparently they ended up paying about $200,000 for the grand exposure on Twitter for 24 hours. It didn't last much more than half of that paid time frame. T-Mobile seemed to forget one crucial thing: their company's mobile service was worse overall than their named competitor. And the Twitterverse let them know! There were thousands (or tens of thousands) of tweets just like this below:
The tweets keep rolling in and trending! You know that people at Verizon, online influencers, and trolls also capitalized on this epic fail, rubbing salt further into the wounds of T-Mobile.
Digital Marketing Fail for sure. Living in New England and being a Patriots fan, I thought I was embarrassed by the #DeflateGate fiasco. This however is even more alarming to me as a digital marketing manager. Who in their marketing department gave this idea the green light? This is reminiscent of when McDonald's came out with their #McDStories sponsored hashtag years ago. It ended up being dominated by customers and ex-employees that were less than positive about the fast food giant. Unfortunately hundreds of other large corporations have also made similar miscalculations such as Kenneth Cole, Vodafone, Chrysler, and Microsoft.
The business lessons to learn from this marketing circus are obvious. First of all, investing significantly in a hashtag is very risky. Hashtags cannot be owned and can easily backfire or become sabotaged. You can't control who will utilize them (including competitors or hired guns).
Secondly, it is just as risky when you go for the jugular of the competitor. Especially when your competition has a superior product. Your product or service should stand on its own and not have to criticize opponents. As many tweeters noted, perhaps T-Mobile should have further developed their infrastructure before trash talking the big dogs.
And finally, you should always know your market and customer base. Don't kid yourself and think that all of them are blissfully happy consumers. And of course, beware of trolls.
Best of luck in business to you all. Don't forget to think twice before you initiate that hashtag campaign or start berating your competition!
I hope you enjoyed this post about the dangers of backfiring Twitter hashtags and other social media marketing campaigns!
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