We’ve all heard it before, “Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.” Social media is no exception. As people and brands continue to try new things in the digital sphere, not all practices succeed. But it’s okay, mistakes will inevitably be made. And when we learn from them, they can be lessons that help us succeed in the future. With that in mind, let’s dive into three unsuccessful social campaigns and see what there is to learn.
Sunny Co Clothing: Going too viral
In the summer of 2017, a California-based apparel company, Sunny Co Clothing offered a product giveaway on Instagram. The campaign lasted only 24 hours but promised each participant a free red swimsuit (resembling the iconic Baywatch swimsuit) if they re-posted the picture and tagged the brand in it. Over the next 24 hours the campaign went viral. The brand later added a limit to how many would win, but it was too late. There were not enough swimsuits to give away and Sunny Co Clothing simply could not handle the number of requests.
Lesson 1: Make sure you can deliver. When it comes to social media, going viral is great. There’s a lot of free promotion, a ton of engagement and most importantly, people are talking about your brand. But with all eyes on you, it’s critical that you can deliver on all promises. Giving away free products to everyone sounds great — but it needs to be realistic. If that promotion goes viral and reaches hundreds of thousands or even millions of social media users, are you equipped to fulfill that promise? Can your brand handle giving away thousands of products? Setting limits is smart and for most brands, it’s essential.
Jerry Media: Curating content and copyright
An Instagram account, F***Jerry, run by Jerry Media, found itself in some trouble earlier this year. Jerry Media classifies the account as a “curator” of content and is known for reposting memes, tweets and other hilarious internet treasures. Over the years, the account has grown to over 14 million followers. Jerry Media monetizes their content with branded memes and other sponsored posts. In March of 2019, Jerry Media was sued for copyright infringement when they reposted a content creator’s meme for a paid promotion. A social media movement to unfollow F***Jerry ensued as celebrities and other influencers spoke out against reposting and copying content for monetary gain.
Lesson 2: Copyright applies to social media too. Sharing content is at the center of every social channel. However, the rules get tricky when you monetize on sharing content that doesn’t belong to you. As a brand, using user-generated content can save time and resources but copyright laws still apply. It’s important to make sure there’s consent and accreditation when it comes to using content that’s not yours.
Kim Kardashian and Diclegis
Diclegis is a drug designed to help pregnant mothers with nausea and vomiting. In 2015 they partnered with Kim Kardashian for an Instagram post. On her post, Kim writes about her experience with the drug and how it helped with morning sickness. At the end she adds a link to the Diclegis website for more information including safety and side effects. Shortly after, the FDA issued a warning to Diclegis, claiming the post to be “insufficient and inconsistent” about the drug’s information. The post has since been removed.
Lesson 3: Rules and regulations are still in effect. When it comes to drugs, health products, food and anything we put in our body, the FDA has strict rules. But it’s not just the FDA, the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) also has rules that apply to all advertisers, including influencers. One an individual signs a contract to promote a product, they represent the brand and therefore must abide by the same rules. Brands should be aware that celebrities and online influencers must also follow FDA and FTC guidelines.
When it comes to any form of advertising, it’s important to research what’s been done before, what worked and what didn’t. Brands across various industries can learn valuable lessons from other company’s social media hiccups. While we recognize that social media practices are always changing, here are a few influencer marketing trends that we believe will put you on the path to success.