Sunday, May 13, 2012

Facebook Marketing Fail - A mini case study

Hi guys, I just witnessed a massive marketing failure this last week on facebook (ok… I kinda, sorta, am partly to blame), and I’m going to tell you how it went down.

Facebook Blowup

So my favourite local meat deli decided that they needed to do some facebook marketing, and set up a group on facebook, and they even managed to get 680 members in the group. That’s pretty amazing for a local deli.

The problem was that they started sending marketing messages directly to all 680 members. While most of us are happy to get a bit of marketing in our news feed(Especially if it’s for a great bargain) nobody like getting spam direct into their inbox. What makes it worse, is that whenever somebody replies to this message, the reply goes to all 680 members also.

Now add in mobile devices with facebook plug-ins that let you know every time you get a direct message and things start getting heated. 

Then on Thursday, it all came tumbling down. 


Some random guy with only goodness in his heart, decided to point out the pink elephant in the room.
Yes, that's me... and no, I did not plan this.

One reply led to another, and then another, and on it went from 2:00pm until about 5:00pm, every 5 or 10 minutes my cell phone would beep with another irate or confused reply. Towards the end, some people were getting really mad and using explicit language, as you can see from the screen shot below.

I really did not mean for this to happen, and apologise profusely to the company and the users. In my defence, I was not the first user to reply.

Yes, Marketing your brand on facebook is a great idea.

But, and this is important, you have to know how to do it properly, or you could end up with a PR nightmare. There are a lot of companies out there who have leant the hard way that marketing in social media is a highly specialised skill and doing it wrong can cause irreparable damage.

If you want to be the Social Media specialist at your company, or want to market your own brand but don’t have the funding to hire a specialist, then check out Facebook Marketing For Smart People.


  1. I totally agree with you, Carl. Athough Facebook is a social media platform that is very easy to use, you should still observe ethics while using it. Do not abuse its capability to reach a wide audience because doing things the wrong way can have massive negative repercussions in the end. If you want to keep in touch with all your members, do it professionally and in a measured manner.

  2. A kind-of epic fail for the local meat deli. But no pressure, it happens to everyone. I also agree with Landon, see how Facebook runs first because admit it or not, we got a lot of complaints to the social media site. And please be careful with the apps. It doesn't mean that if it's free, we get to abuse it. Clicking is fine, but rapid clicks are too obnoxious.

  3. @Kyle thanks for the comment. The amazing thing is that Facebook have provided a free Best Practice guide for marketing on Facebook, but so many Small business still create a User Profile instead of a Page for their business.

    PS: I enjoyed your "How Mark Zuckerberg Did it" article

  4. Well it is always good to use social networking site in your marketing strategy. But always remember that there is a proper way to do it.

  5. Very good post. I love the point you mentioned on this post

  6. Facebook is a social media platform that we can use for us to advertise or promote our website business. However, this must be done in a well-mannered state; otherwise, you'll end up with a bad impression that could lead to irreparable damage over your website’s ranking.

    1. I'm not sure that poorly managed Facebook marketing could damage the website ranking, but it could definitely damage the company brand and image.