Not another social media #fail

The perils of social media were laid bare once more when a planned question and answer session on Twitter with the American investment bank JPMorgan Chase & Co backfired badly for the company.

No doubt attempting to appear au courant with all things marketing and digital related, the bank asked Twitter users to send in questions via the network to its vice chairman Jimmy Lee with the hashtag #AskJPM. Jimmy was there, as the PR agents put it, to “answer your questions on leadership and life”.

However, the idea soon descended into farce with most people using the upcoming “event” as the perfect opportunity to mock the company and make their hostile feelings about JPMorgan well known.

A woman who said she was a community organiser and “next gen freedom fighter” asked if Mr Lee thought it was “ok to outright lie, cheat and steal”. “Matt” wanted to know Mr Lee’s favourite type of whale, while another user known as “Guerrilla Educator” asked if anyone in Mr Lee’s family had ever been foreclosed upon.

The user “Wu- Tang Financial” pretty much summed things up nicely when he loudly asked: “IS IT A FAIR ASSUMPTION THAT YO SOCIAL MEDIA TEAM DID NOT PROPERLY PROTECT YA NECK?”

The event, scheduled for lunchtime today, was quickly cancelled by the company before it had even officially begun, who admitted that it was a “bad idea” (well at least they were honest!) 


Ironically, JPMorgan was an underwriter of Twitter’s recent initial public offering of stock so one would have presumed they knew exactly what they were getting into. Besides, banks are hardly the most loved of institutions at even the best of times so the level of hostility directed towards JPMorgan should hardly have come as a surprise. 

A Q&A session with British Gas in October unleashed a similar level of loathing by the public and made world headlines for the company for all the wrong reasons. And who can forget last year, when a McDonald’s Twitter promotion using the hashtag #McDstories was hijacked by customers who used it to spread their horror stories of the fast food giant across the social networking site.

The British Monetary Policy Committee (who?) also had a Q&A Twitter session recently. Thankfully this passed off slightly better, presumably because no one really had a clue what to ask about monetary policy or quantitative easing.  

The lesson? While Twitter and social media have powerful benefits for companies it needs to be remembered that social media is also a two-way conversation between a company AND its customers and it can be a very public and easy place for companies to get things wrong. The seemingly best of ideas can quickly turn into the stuff of PR nightmares.

A company always needs to have clear social media objectives and to have a well-defined plan in place too. Having a well resourced team of social media experts is also important. And remember, just because everyone else seems to be doing something on social media doesn’t mean you need to too!


AdWords – the 21st century marketing con?


Each year billions of dollars is spent on pay per click (PPC) advertising or ‘search’ advertising. And as Google controls the vast majority of the search engine market, that means billions gets spent on AdWords. And the amount continues to grow at a staggering speed each year.

In 2011, Google’s revenues topped 37 billion dollars, the vast majority of which came from search advertising.

However, a new report by eBay has claimed that businesses may be wasting billions of dollars a year on this type of advertising.

The 25-page report, given the not overly search-friendly title of Consumer Heterogeneity and Paid Search Effectiveness: A large scale field experiment was published on the National Bureau of Economic Research website on 6 March 2013. The report found that brand keyword ads (where companies purchase ads on searches for their own names) have no real benefits. This is because most consumers would have clicked through to a company’s website without being prompted to do so by a paid search ad for the company. Quite simply, in the absence of paid ads, consumers just substitute to organic search links.

According to the report, this implies that search advertising has ‘neither persuasive nor informative value to well-known corporations.’

When conducting the study, eBay removed PPC advertising for its brand from the Yahoo! and Microsoft search engines but kept it on Google and then monitored the results closely. The results showed: ‘that almost all of the forgone click traffic and attributed sales was immediately captured by natural search.’

The effectiveness of PPC for non-branded keywords was also questioned. The report found that the return is small for a large and well-known brand like eBay and that PPC advertising has been ineffective on average for the company.

The report did accept that new and infrequent users to a website are influenced by PPC ads. However, it is actually existing loyal users (who already know about a company, its products and its website) who actually account for most of the clicks on paid search ads. As a result, businesses may think they’re attracting new customers to their website through PPC advertising but in reality they’re not and in many cases the vast majority of customers would have found other ways of getting to the business’s website, according to the report.

The report has already generated fierce debate within the marketing world with some arguing that the report is flawed, biased, or simply wrong. However, the report does raise important questions around the effectiveness of PPC advertising, considering the billions that are spent (wasted?) on search advertising each year and it challenges the industry thinking that Google is a good way to advertise to customers.

So…is AdWords an effective use of advertising budget or is it simply a way for Google to grab vast sums of money from naive businesses – on which it then pays little to no tax?


Is AdWords simply a waste of money?

Mixing tradition and digital marketing technology

At this stage we’re increasingly used to seeing QR codes on everything from newspapers to packaging and even TV. But have you ever seen one made from stone?
The Portuguese tourist board decided to combine historical tradition with new marketing technology to create a unique way to promote Portugal as a tourist destination.
One of the newest tools in digital marketing, QR codes, was made from a unique art with over 500 years of history, Portuguese cobblestone. The QR code of stone was then placed on the streets of Lisbon and further afield for travellers to scan and find out more about Portugal.
The end result was a world first for QR codes and a pretty cool marketing idea too!
Click the link below to find out more.

Is social media now a currency?

Who needs to pay with money when you have Twitter!

Kelloggs were looking to put a value on social media conversations. So they built a pop-up shop in Soho, London, where people could buy their products, not by paying cash, but by tweeting about their brand instead! The campaign was simple and cost effective, and it encouraged an online social media conversation about a very traditional brand. 


QR codes – are we using them to their full potential?

Similar to bar codes, QR codes can store data that can be read by a scanner. What makes them better than the familiar bar code, however, is that a QR code can store up to several hundred times more data in a smaller space.

QR codes are now one of the latest ‘in’ things for marketeers. But are they being used to their full potential?

A bar in Singapore thought outside the box and used them as a ‘flirting’ tool for its customers! Needless to say, beer sales doubled…