Avoid Making Costly Social Media Advertising Blunders

Facebook advertising does several things very well: it helps brands build their community of engaged followers and is a powerful ad platform, both as a lead generator and sales driver. But social media advertising – whether on Facebook or elsewhere – should never result in negative publicity, and must be approached tactfully.

Last week we published a post on the different types of Facebook advertising the site offers. This week, we’re using one of the largest retailers in the world, Abercrombie and Fitch, as a case study in how these tricky social ad campaigns can have disastrous and unintended consequences. So take note: the lessons learned can help your brand avoid the same costly mistakes.

When your company is under fire

Originally launched in 1892, Abercrombie and Fitch revolutionized the sporting goods industry by offering well made clothing at affordable prices. After a sale to the Limited Brands in 1988, their focus shifted away from men, towards tweens and teens. After a run of good fortune, their luck changed quickly when, in May their CEO Mike Jefferies made some very unnerving public remarks about the company’s preferred demographic (check out the story here). Since then, both sales and customer loyalty plummeted.

Although this incident happened almost seven months ago, the clothing brand is still feeling the heat from the community. The company set out to combat the decline in sales and spin the negative publicity with Facebook Sponsored Stories. The result? A cluster of some 500 plus negative comments from an infuriated community that quickly went viral.

abercrombie Facebook ads

The Takeaways

When your company is in the hot seat, or your brand is within a highly controversial industry, Facebook advertising might not be the best option. Facebook, unlike other social media platforms, tends to be more open and accepting of criticism.

If you’re looking to combat some of this negativity away from the company, focus on positive forms of advertising such as a press release, wherein your brand retains much more control over the shape and delivery of the story. So instead of advertising a 50% off sale, Abercrombie and Fitch marketers should have advertised the CEO’s public apology to try help calm the community.

Other Facebook Advertising Blunders to Avoid

When advertising on Facebook, make sure to include a very obvious call to action. A simple “like us if __” hardly constitutes as a call to action. Such captions gives no indication about your company, or what your brand stands for.

Be sure your company page is full of fresh and engaging content to give users a reason to like your page. No one wants to follow an empty or boring timeline, so liven it up. The better the content and images, the more likely fans will want to follow your updates and tune in, adding comments and sharing items to get you more viral exposure.

Advertising on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are seamless tools for adding more engagement and a heightened audience to your company or brand. But before allocating that valuable marketing budget, make sure your message is clear, targeted, and engaging. Who knows? Your campaign could one day be a case study for “Facebook ads gone right.”

When do you think is a wrong time to advertise on social media platforms?