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Even the most successful businesses make poor decisions, take bad advice or don’t see the big picture when it comes to marketing messages.

When utilised intelligently, social media is a powerful tool that can be wielded for good. But with so many marketing campaigns gone wrong, it seems even the most successful businesses make poor decisions, take bad advice or don’t see the big picture when it comes to the messages they try to engage with.

1. Aldi asks for answers

Grocery chain Aldi demonstrated a valuable lesson to learn thanks to a crowdsourcing social media campaign. Aldi Australia tweeted followers asking them to ‘fill in the blank’ and provide feedback about why they love the brand.

The brand posted a photo along with the statement: “I became an Aldi lover when I tasted xxxx for the first time.” The post, which has since been deleted, was accompanied by the hashtags ‘tellus’ and ‘feedback’, perhaps predictably Twitter users instantly responded with colourful and suggestive answers.

Lesson learnt? Fill-in-the-blank social media exchanges are best avoided altogether. You’re handing all the marketing power over to your consumers.

2. Boost Juice’s name game

Boost Juice’s promotion ‘What’s Your Name Game’ was designed to give away free drinks to people who visited stores on the day their name was suggested.

Customers submitted their names into a pool on the website, and waited for the daily giveaway. Unfortunately, this resulted in people quickly cottoning on to the fact that they could submit any word they wanted – unfiltered.

Founder Janine Allis handled the incident with humour, tweeting a link to reports of the marketing fail with the comment: “Oops. At least someone is having fun.”

Lesson learnt? Act quickly to implement any technical fixes on your sites. Publicly address the incident in a tone that is appropriate to the situation, whether that be a light-hearted or more sombre approach.

3. Woolworths’ history lesson

Woolworths’ campaign ‘Fresh in Our Memories’ was promptly taken down after aligning the brand with Anzac Day. The supermarket chain encouraged people to commemorate the Anzac story by uploading images of those impacted by or lost to war – the site then branded the images with the Woolworths logo and the text ‘Lest We Forget Anzac 1915-2015. Fresh in our memories.’

Lesson learnt? Despite good intentions be wary of commercialising momentous events, as it can give the impression you are jumping on the bandwagon and simply appealing to audience sentimentality.

4. Taxi! for Your Taxi

The Victorian Taxi Association’s (VTA) #YourTaxis campaign resulted in people bombarding the hashtag with reports of poor customer service, from incompetent drivers to tales of abuse.

As Twitter users also pointed out, this played right into the hands of the taxi industry’s greatest competitor, Uber. In a press release, chief executive David Samuel said the VTA: “Recognises the need for systemic industry change… [but the] current regulatory settings impede and restrict the ability of the businesses that make up our industry to achieve this.”

Lesson learnt? Acknowledging an overwhelming response from your audience shows you have heard their concerns and take them seriously. Indicate that you plan to address the issues raised because you value your customers’ opinions.

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