Social Media Marketing went “wrong”: Case: “Langham Hotel Steps in to Calm Online Storm” (Hong Kong)

Every morning, I would have my coffee beside me and my MacBook Pro as a defacto “ground hog” day start for me – prowling through my emails and of course looking forward to a great positive start…

Till I saw this news and got me ‘excited”

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“Langham Steps In To Calm Online Storm”

and I quote

Hong Kong – Langham Hotel is today rethinking its approach to marketing in the social media space after a series of viral videos caused an online storm overnight.

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Geesh what could have possibly gone so wrong? After all, not without a day passes by, that on blogs, e-news and twitter that social media is not mentioned. Its THE “IN” thing now. Everyone is talking about it and companies are jumping into it (without really thinking it through).

However, to be fair, its us marketers that have promoted this wonderful media as the next BIG thing (the recession also helped in a way), the new media promotion as well and also last but not least the perceived low costs of social media.

In my previous post, I blogged about reputational management, when something negative is said about your brand in the social space: what are you going to do? Click here to see the post. In that post, I’ve listed a number of steps one can do to ‘remedy’ the situation but one other alternative I omitted (failed to) is, retreat from the online space. This is exactly what Landham Hotel did. They retreated. Was it a sound move? I don’t know. To me I felt they should have responded to all these bad press. But then again, I may be wrong.

So what went wrong? In my view (for the sake of brevity, I’ll just touch on three points):

1. Perhaps a misleaded interpretations of blogs/forum posts/interview excerpts that cause this. If that is the case, they should have vetted it in depth and considered all angles in which the content can be interpreted.

2. I guess a not throughout enough research was performed on its customers specifically, how the targetted customers interact in both online and offline and what makes them tick (how and why)

3. Cultural Considerations: They failed to take that into account. Remember Social media is social and being social – human take cultures into play (think Hofstead’s Cultural Dimension). This is a case, whereby (going back to point 1 & 2), they failed to understand and appreciate how their customer interacted and as a result received a backlash of negativism to their campaign.

Oh well, I guess this may serve a wake up call for all that Social Media in itself is a strategy and its requires a lot of preparation and commitment to see it through.

I wish Langham Hotel well in this regards and may this be a lesson to be learnt.

Study your audience intimately

I would love to hear your thoughts on this and hear any experiences you might have. Feel free to comment/share! :)

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