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SPEAK-OUT -- SOCIAL MEDIA ERRORS AND LESSONS


Using social media for marketing is easy, right? Hardly. Even social media gurus don't get it right every time. In an effort to learn from others' mistakes, here's some insightful errors and lessons from within the ski industry, including one of my own. 

Rufo, nxtConcepts--What I meant to say was... 
Issue: Trying to be funny on Twitter. After just a few months on Twitter, I decided to joke about a non-ski industry client that was e-mailing more than 60 images, one at a time. I thought it would be funny. However, another client that followed my tweets was put off. 

Lesson: Thankfully, Nate Wolleson, marketing director at Snow Trails, Ohio, called me to explain how he interpreted the tweet. Wolleson said, "If this is what you are saying about them, what are you saying about us"? I learned two lessons. First, be authentic when you write, but think twice about trying to be funny in 140 characters or less. Second, if you do write something, attempting to erase it may only call more attention to your gaffe. Instead, leave it, but follow it up with a comment clarifying what you meant to say or correcting your mistake. 

Mt. Bachelor-Turning the Tide 
Issue: A few years ago, a challenging relationship between the resort and the local community moved from offline conversations to online. Once online, negative sentiment rapidly spread from blogs to mainstream media. Once mainstream media took notice, they started reporting conversations as fact. Before 2008, the resort did not have a person or policy in place to refute comments or address conversations about the resort. 

Lesson: It took Bachelor years to recover. By 2010, the resort had changed its culture from ignoring to interacting. Through frequent participation and by replying to most posts, the area turned the tide from mostly negative comments to positive ones. According to former marketing director Alex Kaufman, "The last year or two were daunting. Many of the conversations were not fun, but necessary. Our goals were to help 98 percent of the people reading and watching make an informed decision, and have the media report correct information." 

Diamond Peak-Laying the Ground Rules 
Issue: After creating a resort Twitter account, the employee that managed the account left the company and deleted the page and the profile. The resort not only lost all the contacts and content, but also all the momentum of the account. 

Lesson: Without a documented social media policy in place, things like this can happen. Milena Regos, marketing director at Diamond Peak Ski Resort, recommends, "Although there can sometimes be a blurry line, when it comes to personal vs. company social media accounts, it is critical to have a policy in place to spell out what you consider that line to be. Do your research and understand the repercussions of allowing employees to engage in social media on company time." 

Anyone working with social media should know that errors are inevitable. It comes from being human. To me, the measure of the success is dealing with the aftermath-that is the lesson you walk away with.

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