Social Media Blunders and What Lil Nas X Can Teach Us About Marketing
There is no way around it. Social media marketing is a marketing strategy every business looking to raise brand awareness, build customer relationships and develop loyalty needs to implement into their brand identity and core marketing tactics.
While there are plenty of good practices, expert advice, and examples of successful brands to follow, there is still a risk things will not go as planned.
Social media blunders happen. Whether by accident – misspelling, posting a wrong picture, wrong caption, or by lack of knowledge of how a certain topic can be harmful and offensive to people – mistakes are a human trait.
In addition, we can’t always control how provocative content may be perceived by our audience. Having a solid backup plan when social media strategies don’t go as planned is a good way to mitigate some PR nightmare situations.
Knowing how to quickly respond in the midst of a crisis can help manage the effects of a social media blunder and avoid reputation damage for a brand’s valuable image.
A few of the social media mistakes that may cause serious trouble for your brand include:
No social media plan
Relying solely on improvising your content for social media can definitely get you into trouble. Without research, you not only miss engaging your audience with your message but you will also risk getting involved in a controversy;
If you don’t know who you want to appeal to – you will not appeal to anyone. Targeting the general public is not a winning strategy. People have different interests and lifestyles, different purchasing habits and journeys and they support various values and causes.
To avoid possible social media blunders, you can focus on your specific audience’s language and attract their attention based on their interests and how your brand can benefit specifically them.
A scandalous tactic in the world of social media marketing is buying your followers. You risk your fake following misleading potential buyers and earning you a bad reputation. In addition, social media platforms will penalize your profile (shadowbanning or directly restricting your profile) once they find out you have bought your following.
You can’t benefit from social media organic advertising if audiences can’t see you- it’s as simple as that.
Picking the right tone of voice is as important as speaking to the right audience. Engaging with your audience in an authentic and genuine way requires specific and intimate knowledge of a brand’s customer base. If you’re not in tune with your audience or specific user group, you can expect your content to fall on deaf ears.
Hashtags can boost social media platform discoverability and brand awareness. They can even help accumulate user-generated content. There’s a trick to using hashtags, however. Always do your research and proactively check what your hashtag’s current popularity is and who uses it.
Generic hashtags will not help with establishing your brand as a well recognized household name – as your posts will get lost in the sea of content under the topic. Not to mention if the tag is used in some controversial, explicit, or in any other problematic way, your brand will be dragged into a social media blunder faster than you can imagine.
If you want your brand to build trust with users and maintain good relationships with followers, you can proactively respond to follower comments.
Your followers will appreciate their voices being heard, and you’ll show them you value their opinion.
Not paying attention to what’s happening in the comment section, on the other hand, might result in discontent and loss of interest from potential buyers – as often users ask product and services related questions in the comment section.
Deleting negative comments like critique on services, dissatisfaction with products and deliveries will not help your brand maintain a good image. On the contrary, it will magnify the issue and attract more attention to it.
Customers will not take kindly to their problem being ignored and will cause more negative attention if you try to silence them instead of addressing the concern.
A more successful approach in avoiding a possible social media blunder would be to offer an apology and try solving the problem. Keeping followers informed on how far you are from solving their issue will win you bonus customer support points.
Real-life examples work best, so let’s look at how the ”Devil Shoes”- a collaboration between Lil Nas X and MSCHF creative studio has caused some controversy and uproar in certain communities.
Rapper Lil Nas X triggered controversy around a recent collaboration with creative studio MSCHF on a pair of custom-designed sneakers.
The pair features a bronze pentagram charm, an inverted cross — and actual human blood.
The sneakers, made using Nike Air Max 97s, were launched in a limited edition of 666 pairs, individually numbered and with each referencing the Bible passage Luke 10:18, which reads “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.”
The news about the shoes quickly circulated in news and social media – sparking outrage among Christian communities, patriotic brands, and even patriotic tshirts printing startups. South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem even expressed concern over the collaboration, tweeting, “We are in a fight for the soul of our nation.”
The shoes, released on March 29, just a week before Easter, however, reached their target audience and were sold out in a mind-blowing 1 minute time span.
And that was not all.
Nike, immediately distanced themselves from the collaboration, stating they were not involved and did not endorse the controversial shoes. Later the company even filed a lawsuit against the New York creative collective for trademark infringement.
Nike’s actions prompted MSCHF to issue a voluntary recall as part of a legal settlement.
The creative studio and Lil Nas X responded by saying that Nike was trying to censor creative expression and that their collaboration was an artistic project that they saw nothing wrong with.
The blunder around the Satan shoes and their retraction from the market managed to focus even more attention on the controversial work of the performer.
Lil Nas X even released a video called “Industry Baby”, on July 23rd which reached over 33 million views on YouTube in just 4 days. In the video, the singer pokes fun at the lawsuit against his sneaker collaboration.
The sneakers odyssey raises the question of whether marketing blunders such as Lil Nas X and MSCHF could actually be helpful for a brand.
The Satan shoes provoked the creation of multiple YouTube reactions and unboxing videos. The hashtag #satanshoes accumulated over 3,500 hashtag sharings on Instagram
Controversial stunt marketing is a powerful promotion tool that can be easily adapted to its audience. When applied masterfully, a stunt marketing strategy can do wonders for a brand’s set goals.
In the case of the “Satan Shoes”, we can only speculate what the goals of the strategists were, but we can confidently say the project attracted plenty of attention from critics and fans alike. It actually helped promote the work of both Lil Nas X and MSCHF.
But before contemplating similar tactics for your brand, be aware such marketing blunders rarely end up in favor of the brand behind them. Risk has to be calculated.
Negative PR can easily destroy a business image, especially one that hasn’t established itself on the market and is looking to raise awareness.
Doing research, ensuring impeccable customer service and taking calculated risks to guarantee a more sustainable long-term marketing strategy is always the best approach.
The growing popularity of social media marketing is encouraging every business to invest into it as a fundamental marketing platform. The majority of the global population is browsing social media content and engaging with content that interests them daily. To make a truly impactful impression, brands are getting extra creative and taking calculated risks.
We hope these tips and the example of Lil Nas X’s latest collaboration with MCHF help you prepare better for possible marketing mishaps.
Terry Tateossian, Founding Partner of Socialfix Media is a fourth-generation entrepreneur who is recognized as an Inc. 5000 America’s Fastest-Growing Private Companies, Forbes’ Top Women in Business, Fastest Growing Women Presidents by WPO, and 40 Under 40 Business Leaders by NJBIZ. Terry has been featured for outstanding leadership and career accomplishments in numerous industry publications as an engineer, a thought-leader in technology, and an innovator in the field of marketing. But her favorite and toughest earned title is being “Mom” to her 2 children.