10 February 2012 | Tanya Goodin

Tamar’s Friday #FailureToLaunch #16 – “Spam, spam, spam and the Super Bowl”

With the massive online buzz around the Super Bowl this week (tweets per second during the game hit a all-time high of 10,000, up from 4,000 last year) it was inevitable brands would be trying to muscle in on the action.

Toyota wins the prize for the most inept attempt to leverage Super Bowl buzz with a series of spammy tweets about what it called the “Camry Effect a Friend’ Giveaway!”. The carmaker described its Camry Effect campaign as one of the “most ambitious social media campaigns we’ve ever implemented.” But it beggars belief that setting up a load of verified twitter accounts simply to send spam @ messages to random individuals (based on nothing more than a tweet mentioning the Super Bowl), was the work of any half-competent social media team. We’d love to know if there was an agency involved (we hope not) or if, as we suspect, this was an in-house job by a marketing team who clearly believe social media is simply just a new broadcast medium on a massive scale.

The Toyota episode also reflects badly on Twitter itself, so it’s a double social media #FAIL. They verified all the spam accounts, they should have known better.

But Toyota hasn’t been the only 2012 car industry social media #FAIL . Another manufacturer , Volkswagen, also came under fire earlier in the year after apparently deleting comments critical of the company’s environmental credentials on its Facebook page

The firm had asked users to to list New Year’s resolutions and make suggestions about what people would like to see the company achieve in 2012… but then clearly didn’t like what they heard.

Greenpeace, which is critical of Volkswagen’s environmental track record, claims the car maker ignored thousands of unfavourable comments about their green credentials and then began deleting them. Earlier screen grabs of the page showed comments such as “Stop threatening our planet by lobbying against climate laws. You should be ashamed of yourselves.” and “YES YES YES stop lobbying against green resolutions.” all of which seem to have been subsequently deleted.

There’s a common thread running through these car industry #FAILs. Both brands are obviously keen to embrace social media but both are trying to adapt their tactics to fit the ‘old’ broadcast-style or ‘control the message’ approach. Social media is an entirely new marketing medium and NEW tactics are needed. But, before brands panic, we want to reassure them – they’re simply the tried and tested old tactics of good customer service; don’t shout at or ignore your customers, listen to them – and then, let them know you’ve heard. Couldn’t be simpler.

Tanya Goodin

Tanya Goodin

Founder of Tamar