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Three SMM Holiday Campaign FAILS And What We Can Learn From Them

You would think that doing any type of holiday marketing is safe. After all, the holidays are packed full of inspiration and cheer. What’s not to love?

However, no time of the year is immune to social media marketing fails. And today, we’ve compiled three of the worst social media marketing campaigns imaginable, both for laughs and for the opportunity to learn from other brand’s big mistakes.

Ready to get started? Let’s hit it.

Walmart’s Yodeling Cat

Even writing that title made me cringe a little, but hey. We get it. It was a “trendy” sort of animation back in 2011, but this is definitely the kind of thing Walmart will never live down.

The problem? It didn’t make us want to shop at Walmart, it didn’t spark any holiday warm and fuzzies and it didn’t give us any confidence in Walmart as a brand.

The solution? It’s important that when you’re making content, you’re striving to make it timeless in a way that ten years from now it could be republished and used again. Yes, there will be things that change and things that are “in” that will fade away, but in this case, a yodeling cat wasn’t exactly relatable to the holiday season. You want your content to spark creativity and engagement and a yodeling cat isn’t exactly in the same category.

Bloomingdale’s “Spike Your Best Friend's Eggnog When They’re Not Looking”

If you thought it was bad, just wait until you find out that this ad came out not long after there was an epidemic of college date rape around the country.

How this ever got approved, we’re still not sure. But can we learn something from it? Absolutely.

The problem? Instead of a campaign that makes us want to go buy some Bloomingdale’s immediately, we’re either scratching our heads or outraged. And understandably!

The solution? Go back to the drawing board.

Starbucks #SpreadtheCheer

Hashtag campaigns can be hugely beneficial, but they have to be executed in the right way.

At a particularly low spot due to rumors of tax avoidance, Starbucks decided it would be a brilliant idea to have their followers share messages of joy and holiday cheer with the hashtag #spreadthecheer and then show the messages on a big screen at the London Natural History museum where Starbucks was sponsoring an ice rink. However, this backfired when individuals started using the platform to share criticizing messages about the company.

The problem? While the idea itself is actually pretty on point, they needed to be vetting the messages before sharing them in such a public way to avoid the bad publicity. While you can’t always pick and choose what your audience sees and hears, in this instance, it was doable.

It’s also generally not a good idea to run a hashtag campaign when you have unfinished business with your audience and are recovering from bad publicity and rumors.

The solution? Better PR and more planning in regards to the various outcomes as far as marketing campaigns go.

A Few Holiday Marketing Take-Aways

Marketing around the holidays doesn’t have to be difficult, but it does require tact and creativity.

There are at least three things I keep in mind when I’m creating content for the holidays:

  • Don’t be pushy about your sales message!

Unless you’re advertising some special kind of promotion, being pushy is a huge turn-off for customers and it can cost you lots of valuable sales and leads.

  • Be prepared for a crisis.

This doesn’t mean you don’t have confidence in your campaign, it just means you’re taking necessary precautions to protect your online reputation and make sure your audience can rely on you. People make mistakes and people manage companies, which means companies make mistakes. Don’t assume you have it all figured out and thus don’t need a back-up plan, because the worst can and will happen and not being prepared can put you in an even worse spot than the one you’re imagining. Believe me.

  • Regularly give your scheduled content a glance.

This is huge. The world is changing every day and what was appropriate a week ago may not be so appropriate now.

Do yourself and the world a favor, and set aside some time once a week to give your scheduled content a second or third glance before it goes live.

Don’t Sweat the Holidays

Whether you own the business or manage it in some capacity, marketing around the holidays can be stressful.

My advice? Play it safe and take it easy this holiday season. Nobody can fault a company for being charitable, so consider hosting a giveaway or raising money for a charitable organization.

Whatever it is you settle on, make sure you take some time to enjoy the holidays for what they are and leave the stress at your desk.

Happy holidays from our team to yours!

Need some social media marketing help? Our team has you covered.

Keith Kakadia

I am a native of New Orleans, LA with a passion for social media marketing, entrepreneurship, and making new connections. I enjoy the opportunity to work with amazing individuals and brands everyday.

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