You know what's really awkward? When customers make a mockery of your brand's desperate advertising tactics on social media. It's happened to companies from KFC to Bank of America, and it can happen to you.
Consumers can smell brand desperation a mile away, and they will promptly ignore, unlike, ridicule, or block you in a heartbeat.
How do you walk the line between persuasive and desperate, gimmicky and clever? Let's look at a few ways brands have failed by trying too hard and determine how to avoid their mistakes:
1. Failed attempts at cleverness: Trying to be clever can sometimes get your brand into trouble. Remember when Bud Light offended people with its "This is the perfect beer for removing 'No' from your vocabulary for the night" label? Or what about all the cringeworthy brand fails on Twitter? Brands love for consumers to see them as hip, cool, and sassy...until their attempts backfire.
How to avoid it: Avoid the perils of trying too hard to be clever by developing a clear, concise, and accurate message and presenting that messaging in a unique way. Take a look at WATERisLIFE's First World Problems campaign or these clever social media campaigns that went viral--all of these brands presented clever, compelling messages without angering their customers.
2. Bribery: Some brands try to bribe customers by offering product discounts to those who interact with them on social media. And while incentives can be an effective way to build a customer base, constantly trying to buy your customers' love doesn't build brand loyalty. This ultimately leads to brand failure because a customer without brand loyalty will happily ditch your brand for one offering a better deal.
How to avoid it: Avoid falling into the endless bribery cycle by working to build brand loyalty. This starts with building a great brand experience and ends with rewarding loyal customers. Need some direction? Take a few hints from these brands with cult-like followings.
3. False marketing: Want to know the most effective way to lose all of your brand fans? Lie to them, and see what happens when they find out. It's worth a reminder that false advertising isn't cool. It can also cost you upwards of a few million dollars if the campaign causes a real ruckus.
How to avoid it: Be transparent, and don't make unfounded claims about your product or service--it's that simple.
4. Growth that's happened way too fast: Among the many nuggets of wisdom Steve Jobs gave to the business world, one is especially important to remember: "Deciding what not to do is as important as deciding what to do. That's true for companies, and it's true for products." Brands that try to solve every customer problem by expanding too quickly often fail because they're pulled in too many directions at once.
How to avoid it: Focus on doing a few things really well instead of doing many things passably. In-N-Out Burger is a great example of this--you won't find a McDonald's-sized menu at any of its locations. The brand's menu may be small, but its customer following sure isn't.
Brands that inadvertently take on a try-hard persona turn their customers off. Instead, work to build quality relationships with customers by engaging them with captivating messages. Against-the-grain tactics can work, but don't get cocky--you'll almost certainly get burned.