Last week Mark Zuckerberg and the rest of the Facebook crew announced sweeping changes to the way their mobile platform works. Rather than the oft-expected “Facebook Phone,” Facebook released a wider-reaching platform that works on millions of devices. I won’t geek out and bore you with the details but the highlights of the platform include:
- Single Sign-On – Log in to Facebook once on your phone and you’ll be logged in for all of your other Facebook-connected apps.
- Location APIs – That’s techno-speak for allowing developers to leverage Facebook’s location technologies.
- Deals Platform – Brands can now offer deals based on your location and check-ins
It’s the last bit that got me really excited! After all, my fellow Social Media Monday blogger, Amanda, and I always go gaga for the latest location tech. You can imagine my excitement when I heard that Gap (suppliers of much of my wardrobe and pages of my Amex bill) would be a Facebook Deals launch partner.
Gap was ready to enter the social location game with a big splash, announcing that at some point they would give free jeans to the first 10,000 customers to check in at their stores. And if you missed the boat, there would be a 40% off one single item promotion later in the day. The catch? You had to be in the know.
The promotion came this past Friday. It wasn’t broadcast through mainstream media channels or even their email distribution list (despite the fact that they have no problem always letting me know it’s the last day of a 25% off sale every day). Instead, I happened to catch wind of it through a friend’s Facebook status update (a ha! clever). Conveniently, I was at a mall when I read the news. Would I be too late?
Strolling into a Gap with my smugly iPhone in hand, checked in and all, I thought I at least had a small chance. You can imagine my disappointment when the clerk looked at me like I had three heads. She hadn’t the faintest idea of what promotion I was referring to. Another clerk informed me that they ran out of coupons but were honoring the 40% deal regardless. I looked around the racks briefly, but left disappointed moments later, no pants in hand.
For me, Gap blew it. I’m not writing this post to share my love for the newest Facebook feature or even to tell you how much I like Gap (old logo and all) Instead, I share my tale so that marketers learn that if they come up with a killer social media strategy, they need to stand behind it’s implementation.
Gap had a chance to take a unique new technology and extend their brand, increase mindshare, and all of those other fun marketing terms we love to use. Instead, they may have dejected their loyalists. Perhaps they needed better employee education, or signage, or notification to their email list or even just more jeans. In any case, they missed the mark.
They’re not alone though. Another of my social media favorites is TeamCoco, the social media barrage supporting the new Conan O’Brien show coming to TBS (tonight!). Last week, Conan’s team blasted the social networks with free t-shirts. Ten thousand to be exact (I assume the number is pure coincidence). Each day, at a random time, TeamCoco would blast out a code for 1,000 free t-shirts. Within seconds they were gone, typically before most fans got a chance to even get to the page. Unlike the Gap, however, there was no consolation prize.
In both cases, the brands sought to use social media to connect directly to their audience. They both embraced new technology at an affordable cost to target said audiences. And they both failed to fulfill their promises, potentially alienating their loyal following. So here’s what I feel my fellow marketers out there can learn from all this:
- It’s a great idea to embrace social networks and technology as a way to engage with your audience.
- It’s okay to create urgency and excitement around your brand (possibly through a giveaway).
- But most importantly, if you’re going to commit to this type of strategy, be sure you have the resources to support your effort, and be ready to apologize to and appease your customers if you become under-supported.