Can brands take the gamble out of personalised social media campaigns?

As The National Lottery dampens the flames of its hijacked social campaign, the big question is, is there a guaranteed way for brands to run safe personalised online campaigns?

By Adam Hildreth

Just like playing the lottery, the lure of the potential wins of personalised social media campaigns are too great for many brands to resist. Create a celebrity-focused campaign concept, let the public do their thing, and you’re rewarded with huge levels of engagement and irresistibly shareable social content.

The only trouble comes when the public ‘doing their thing’ doesn’t match with your brand values. The National Lottery found out this week what happens when the Great British public don’t take a social campaign as seriously as the brand does.

Their #Represent campaign, which aimed to celebrate British Athletes by sending personalised tweets to fans when they uploaded their names, was not the jackpot they hoped for. In hours Twitter users were posting offensive messages about Madeline McCann, Raoul Moat, and Jimmy Savile, and thousands were retweeting.

But it seems the odds were on for this to happen. One Twitter user even asked @TNLUK “How can you not have known something like this would get hijacked?”.

Only weeks ago Walkers suffered at the hands of malicious tweeters when their #WalkersWave campaign was pulled after receiving photos of Harold Shipman, Fred West and Josef Stalin (above) to be held up by the unwitting Gary Lineker. Back in 2015, Nutella allowed users to mock-up personalised jars, but when shared on Twitter the brand’s logo read ‘diabetes’ and ‘poop’.

So, are personalised social media campaigns too big a gamble for brands?

Not at all. Look at Under Armour’s Icon trainers. This hugely successful campaign gives customers free-reign to upload images they want printing on their shoes. Meanwhile this summer, Thomson Holidays is happily running a personalised video campaign enabling customers to create shareable videos of their holiday photos. For both these brands, the secret is moderation.

While every brand will put marketing and PR strategies in place for each campaign; informed brands are also using social media moderation to check every image, comment or competition entry is appropriate for the brand. If user-generated content is offensive, vulgar or anything that the brand doesn’t want to appear on its social channel, the content can be moderated out and prevented from appearing.

Moderation doesn’t slow down competition entries or negatively effective users’ experience of the brand’s campaign. It simply protects the brand’s reputation by changing the balance of control, giving the brand peace of mind on what appears on their social media pages, and preventing malicious users from running riot.

In short, to increase your chances of creating a successful personalised social campaign, social media moderation is the best card you can play.

Adam Hildreth is CEO and Founder of Crisp, the social media risk experts. Using AI and human moderation, Crisp protects brands’ reputations from risks such as PR crises, hate speech, security issues, extremist content, and much more.

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