The Deadly Sins of Social Media Marketing

After reading through Kaplan & Haenlein’s article citing Ten pieces of advice for companies deciding to use Social Media, I found myself thinking of some recent social media marketing fails by several brands and how social media has changed since their article was published in 2010. Social media usage has changed with a 2015 report finding that 49% of Australian social network users access their account at least once a day, up from 30% in 2011.  Several issues and dilemmas for businesses who use social media have also arisen in recent years. The pressure to develop an online presence has seen many businesses make many misguided attempts at social media engagement.  Inspired by the recent changes to social media and the social media fails, I have revised Kaplan & Haenlein’s list of advice for companies and added two other warnings.

1. Insensitive and Uninformed

Social media platforms have provided businesses an unprecedented outlet to communicate instantly with consumers about complaints and crises identity on a uniquely personal level; it has the power to positively transform or destroy perceptions of a brand and relationships.

Kaplan & Haenlein prompts businesses to be unprofessional; engaging with customers through informal responses and memes can create a fun and personable brand image for businesses.

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Minor customer concerns can be addressed promptly in a nonchalant manner, further strengthening the brand’s relationships with its consumers. Using unprofessional, informal and mocking responses when managing crises and serious complaints as can however have severe consequences; brand’s can be seen as insensitive and indifferent to legitimate concerns. There are several recent instances where businesses have received widespread condemnation for joking responses to customer complaints.

Telstra recently experienced backlash for their indifferent and mocking responses to customers concerns regarding a widespread service outage. Customers in major capital cities lost service for several hours and contacted Telstra’s social media sites for an update on a fix. Their response “nah we just flicked the off switch as a bit of fun ;p” left a lot to be desired, further angering customers and making national headlines.

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2. Buying Fake Followers

Drawing on Kaplan & Haenlein advice about the importance of honesty, I considered the issues that have arisen recently with brands buying fake followers on platforms such as Instagram and Twitter. The “follower economy” enables businesses to purchase illegitimate followers for as little as $5 per 1000 followers. The practice is surprising popular, in late 2014, Instagram culled millions of fake accounts with some businesses and celebrities losing more than half their number of followers overnight.  Paying for followers may be a convenient way of instantly  developing the appearance of online popularity, but its benefits are largely superficial. Purchased fake followers are inactive accounts that are often bots. They will not engage with the business or participate in marketing strategies.


Using fake followers is also morally wrong; fake followers are known to spam brand’s genuine, organic followers. Technology savvy consumers are aware of these inorganic methods and are skeptical of businesses that grow their number of followers suspiciously rapidly. Fake followers can therefore diminish a brand’s reputation and credibility and thus leave businesses marketing strategy worse off.


So, what do you think? What do you believe social media marketing deadliest sins are? What is your opinion of fake followers? Leave a Comment!




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