When Facebook Marketing Goes Awry

When using social media to publicize a new fashion item, line, or brand, it is imperative for companies to know how to best reach their target audience to get the intended message across.  A great way for a company to get their foot in the door of this new marketing method is to look at other fashion designers’ or brands’ pages on various social media platforms. Here, they can observe practices that work for other companies and are able to use their example as inspiration.

An even better way to get an idea of what works in the world of fashion marketing through social media is to look at others’ pages and see what DOESN’T work for them. Learning from others’ mistakes and embarrassments is crucial to keep a company that is trying to establish a social media presence from shooting themselves in the foot before they even get through the door.

A great example of a fashion social media faux pas is the Adidas “Shackle Shoes” incident of June 2012. The company came up with a new design of shoes that showcased rubber shackles that went around the wearer’s ankles. They posted a photograph of this new design on their Facebook page and likely expected rave reviews. What they got, however, were the exact opposite. People were outraged and even connected the shackles to slavery in America. Comments were made accusing Adidas of racism. The shackles, some users said, were very similar to the shackles that American slaves were forced to wear across their ankles. The post with the introduction of the shoes was taken off of the page and the campaign was pulled days later, but not early enough to keep the idea from making a huge impact among their constituents, especially those of color. If the company had done more research before posting the picture on their Facebook page, the entire fiasco could have been prevented.

Gene Morphis, the CFO of Franchesca’s, a popular women’s jewelry and clothing store, utilized a Facebook account (among other social media platforms) to post information that he felt would be interesting to fans of the company. These accounts, however, were unfiltered and unmonitored, and he used the accounts to post unprofessional comments about his staff and about the company’s finances. These posts led to an investigation of the company’s finances and the eventual termination of Morphis’ employment at the company. The reason for his employment termination was cited as improper communication through social media of company information, as stated here by the HR Daily Advisor. 

It is very important to know how to go about using social media in a positive way, but it is equally as important to know how not to go about using social media. One slip, such as the ones above, can lead to a national outcry or an executive member losing his or her job. Posts made by a member of a company could lead to expensive lawsuits, criminal hearings, or worse! Simply making accounts on these social media platforms, such as Facebook, is not enough. A thorough understanding of the platform is necessary. This understanding can be achieved through observation of the competition.

 — Posted by Beckie Sweet

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