Content marketing: Telling Meaningful Stories

Here’s the only way to make sure your social media campaign does not backfire

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A social media campaign might “backfire” from time to time and then some of us – usually those people not in charge of running campaigns – second guess and hold up that something negative happened.

Usually a “backfiring” social media campaign looks like this:

  • Company invites people to share their stories and experiences with the company and the world on social media.
  • Some people tweet and post positive things – experiences marketing loves to see and widely re-shares.
  • Some people – when it truly backfires, many people – will post their negative experiences.

Who would have thought that customers have some negative experiences with us? Seriously, reality check, people. Even the best companies aren’t perfect. Let’s take Amazon. I love, love, love Amazon. Just ask my mail lady. The other day there was so much stuff coming from Amazon that she backed into my drive way to deliver it all! Ha.

Of course, Amazon also empowered me to publish two books and one has been bought on all continents except South America and Antarctica. I love Amazon. But it’s not perfect and I don’t like some things about it. One is how easy it is to spend too much money.

When it comes to crowd sourced testimonial campaigns, we need to remember that there are negative experiences and it’s okay to listen to them.

Do this:

  • People will share their stories – positively and negatively. Understand it!
  • Listen to those stories
  • Adjust and fix what isn’t working. This isn’t necessarily regarding the social media campaign, but whatever is causing the issue out in the field.

Related reading:
Mean tweets that people have sent my way on Twitter (VIDEO)

Some of the negative feedback I’ve received

Instead of dwelling on that people are saying negative things about us, think about why they are saying negative things about us. Then decide if we care. Some feedback isn’t necessarily useful and even relevant. But, when it is, act on it. And the action shouldn’t be to:

  • Delete all social media accounts
  • Ignore the people who are screaming about your campaign backfired
  • Ignore people who are talking to you about their problem with you

Related reading: 

How to effectively deal with negative feedback

Instead, thank the people who are offering the feedback. And get Operations on the phone to fix the things that need to get fixed. Since when is Marketing in charge of running the Operation in a customer-friendly way?

Sometimes these campaigns lead to that ever present digital lynch mob problem. The bigger your brand, the more people will participate in the mob. It won’t feel good, but it’s still important to move forward and through it.

As a general rule of thumb, I like to offer this communication plan:

  • Try to listen to all feedback. This can get quite hard actually when people don’t tag your brand or the volume is so huge that the team can’t handle it.
  • Try to respond at least once to all. Don’t respond to people after that if they are just trying to pick a fight.
  • Pass feedback on to the people who actually can fix it.
  • Consider sharing the actual improvements publicly through a blog post, article, live social media video, etc.

It’s not like any publicity is good publicity, but we can turn most kinds into something useful – whether it’s to explain market position better or to make a real change the benefits customers. Here’s to moving from damage control to meaningful communication and forward movement.


Christoph blogs on The Authentic Storytelling Project and is a globally recognized content marketing expert. The IMA named him Internet Marketer of the Year in 2015. He works with healthcare organizations and other brands around the globe.

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