This past week, we wrapped up a short social media campaign we’d been involved with for a client, Bigelow Tea.  As is often the case, what didn’t work is just as valuable (if not more so) than what did work, and we thought you might be interested in some of our observations.

  1. Facebook and Twitter Are Not the Same Tribe. When Bigelow Tea was preparing to announce their new spokesperson*, together we spent a week dropping clues on Twitter, followed by a one-hour window in which participants could guess the spokesperson’s identity.  But fans of their Facebook page were upset that the contest wasn’t extended to Facebook as well, and some of them made it very clear that they didn’t (and wouldn’t) tweet.  Ever. Lesson: Don’t expect users of one platform to naturally migrate to another.
  2. Private Twitter Accounts Can Complicate Contests. In the same Bigelow contest, participants were provided with a hashtag — #GuessWhoBigelow — to include with their guesses.  But not all of the hashtagged responses showed up in a search for that hashtag.  Why not?  Because some guesses came from Twitter users whose accounts are set to “private” (AKA the ones whose tweets are preceded by a padlock icon), and “private” tweets don’t show up in general searches.  Lesson: When planning a public contest, take into account whether (and how) “private” people can easily participate.
  3. Your Interested Audience Is Not Always Your Target Audience. One respondent to the contest complained that “all these sports-related clues are pretty useless to some of us on the Internet,” which we found to be an interesting — and, in this case, unresolvable — objection.  Since Bigelow’s new spokesperson is a sports legend, the contest naturally leaned in that direction.  We therefore presumed anyone taking part in the contest would use their Googling skills to find the answer.  Unfortunately, non-sports fans felt left out of both the contest and any means of finding the answer.  Lesson: You can’t please everyone.

The knowledge we’ve absorbed from this campaign will pay off as we apply it to future projects.  And while social media may have a never-ending learning curve, it doesn’t mean we can’t all keep getting smarter, one lesson at a time.

* If you were wondering, the answer is Wayne Gretzky.