Here’s this week’s round-up of news stories marketers shouldn’t miss because they offer key information or lessons that multi-channel distributed marketing organizations should take to heart.
- Hashtag surfing bites Entenmanns. When a marketer at Entenmanns used the Twitter hashtag #notguilty to promote the company’s low-fat baked goods, the company stepped right into the middle of the Twitter uproar over a Florida jury’s decision in the Casey Anthony murder trial. The resulting backlash against the company, which appeared to many Twitter users to be trying to capitalize on a tragedy, is still going on. The lesson for us all: Before you go hashtag surfing (that is, adding random hashtags to tweets in hopes of attracting new followers), use the Twitter trends tool to make sure you aren’t stepping into the middle of a potential disaster.
- Twitter gives Bayer a global headache. Promoting prescription drugs directly to consumers is legal in the U.S. — but it isn’t in the United Kingdom and many other countries. In a seemingly trivial tweet, a Bayer marketer in the U.S. took a short extract of a press release that had been internally “certified” by Bayer’s compliance people, and posted it on Twitter. The tweet announced the release of a chewable version of a Bayer product and linked back to the press release, which complied with the regulations. Until now, the assumption had been that a tweet linking to pre-approved static content was ok, but the PMCPA, which regulates drug promotion in the U.K., said that it wasn’t, and is requiring a formal apology and fine from Bayer. The lesson for marketers: Be sure you understand the rules and regulations that apply before you publish any content on a social media platform — especially if you do business globally.
- Independent reseller comments are a risky business. Allergy Pathways, a company sanctioned by regulators previously, was under a federal court order to stop making what the court had said were misleading statements about its products. The company complied — but didn’t moderate or erase comments made by independent resellers on its Twitter and Facebook pages. The results: a new lawsuit by regulators, new fines, and new restrictions on the company. The lesson for marketers: You’re liable for comments made by third parties on your blog, Facebook, Twitter, and other web pages. So consider moderating comments, not linking to third-party content or sites you haven’t thoroughly checked out, and training your down-stream sales partners on appropriate social media usage and brand standards.
- Facebook changes virtual money rules after an anti-trust complaint. Facebook games are a great marketing tool — but until now, Facebook’s rules required that companies who used the site for their games agree not to offer the same game or content anywhere else at a lower price. A consumer watchdog group brought an anti-trust complaint, and Facebook responded by “tweaking” their terms and conditions over the July 4 weekend, without admitting any wrongdoing. The lesson for marketers: If you’ve held off using Facebook games because of the pricing issue, it might be time to look at the platform again. Facebook controls over 50% of the $2.1 billion in virtual goods used in gaming, and the audience continues to grow.
- Social Media usage is growing — and so are the fines from regulators. According to Gartner Research, 20% of business users will be using social media as their primary communications tool by 2014. (Cannes IT Symposium Keynote Address) Actiance’s Sarah Carter took to the pages of the IBS Intelligence website to detail some of the ways insurance and financial services regulators are addressing the growing popularity of social media. (Free registration required to access the complete article.) The lesson for marketers: If you’ve been waiting to plunge into social media, at least make sure that you’re capturing your brand and trademark names on the most popular platforms because you won’t be able to wait forever. The early adopter phase is over, and social media is a mainstream marketing tool today. The opportunity cost of not being visible where your customers want to find you is growing — so even the most regulated businesses are moving toward social media.