So in my nonlibrary life (which keeps me so busy that I hardly post here any more), I run a frugality and money-saving blog over at Mashup Mom. This has been fascinating in part today because of the lessons for libraries, and for all of us, from companies that don’t do social media well. Bear with me for a minute, here.
Exhibit A: Safeway (Dominick’s, Genuardi’s, Von’s, Randall’s, Tom Thumb, other sister stores…)
This past weekend, the Safeway chain blasted subscribers with an email stating that if they became a fan on Facebook, they could come back on Monday the 7th for a free box of clementines. Cool, right? I like clementines. Here’s the original ad:
Pretty straightforward, no? Here’s what the promo turned into on 12/7:
Hmm. That’s not the same at all, is it. Not only that, earlier in the morning people were able to load the coupon to their cards, but it didn’t say on the coupon that it was only valid 12/8 — they went shopping, and guess what happened? No free box of clementines, that’s what happened. On Safeway’s Facebook Wall, people are reporting hold times of upwards of 30 minutes with customer service and arguments at their stores. (This begs the question of who holds for 30 minutes for a “free” $5.00 box of fruit, but…) Some people were unable to load the coupon because of technical glitches, others did their big grocery shop already for the week and were miffed about the $25 purchase requirement. Here are a few choice comments from their Wall:
- “Not a happy customer. The coupon would not let me complete it because it was too low down on my screen and I could not submit it.”
- “Yes, I find it interesting the way Safeway went about this promotion! Why not just say: “shop tomorrow,spend $25 and we’ll throw in a box of clementines” ?? wouldn’t that be alot easier than pissing off loyal shoppers?”
- “”With $25 min. purchase.” is a bunch of B.S.! NOT what was advertised earlier! To say I’m displeased would be a GROSS UNDERSTATEMENT!!!”
- “Time to un-fan. This “coupon” is not what was promised days ago. Plus, I do not have the kind of time/money where I can just zoom off to a store and spend $25 for “free” clementines.”
- “Too difficult. Another convoluted Safeway gimmick.”
- “This sucks with a capital S…Shame on you Safeway. I thought youu were above these underhanded tactis.”
- “This is a horrible promotion. Why would you go through the hassel for some clemintines when you have to pay $25 for them. They are not free.”
- “Safeway’s “FREE clementines” offer = FAIL”
- “Incredible! I go to the link and try to register my card. The little pop up doesn’t allow me to move it so I can’t even register my card. I will by the Clementines on sale at Fry’s instead!”
- “Does your company have anyone who checks continuity on your offers? There was no mention of a 25,000 limit on the email you sent and no meniton of haveing to buy them a certain day or with a $25 purchase. This is not responsible advertising and makes me think the people in charge of your Facebook ads are doing your sto…re a disservice by alienating us, the customers. Rethink this process. I think it backfired on you.”
Now, Safeway has started to respond to the negative comments with a generic:
You can view all the details of the promotion here: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=197386102471&ref=mf
Please let me know if you have any questions!
Think that’s making people happy? Anyway, you can read hundreds more here if you enjoy this sort of thing….
Exhibit B: Walgreens
Everyone’s jumping on the Facebook bandwagon lately. So Walgreens puts out a promo yesterday: Fan us on Facebook, and then come back Monday for a “special offer.” Ooh! Mystery special offer. What could it be? Well, it turned out to be free shipping, today only, not good on photos. Yawn. Apparently it’s not even working for a lot of people, and then their site went down for “system upgrades” shortly after they released the code. Here’s what their Wall now sports:
- “Boo…this kinda sucked…not impressed or excited about this “deal!”"
- “The code applies but then when you go to next page to put your payment info it puts shipping charge back on! This is so screwed up!”
- “I’m taking my name off the list…very disappointed!”
- “i signed up for this crap?! booooo”
- “It’s not that we are ungrateful, it’s just that free shipping it’s pretty much something that most comsumers already expect – because most retailers already offer this – especially around the holidays. Sorry Walgreens – I must unfriend you as well.”
- “Yes, bogged down and now closed…Merry Christmas Walgreens. Your sale is mega lame as everyone on the planet lives within walking distance of a Wags so free shipping is a slap in the face and now your website cannot handle the “load” of the seven people who actually want to take advantage of your “sale.” Unfriend.”
- “Walgreens site is down. Gee thanks for the “Today Only Free Shipping”. Jerks.”
It’s not making people quite as mad as the “free” clementines, but it’s not making them happy, either. Read more here, if you’re so inclined.
Lessons for libraries (or anyone else):
So here’s what I take from this:
- Deliver on what you promise. If you are promising something for “free,” there had better not be a catch.
- Be clear as to what you’re offering. If the original Safeway promo had specified a free box of clementines with $25.00 purchase on 12/8/09 when you become a fan, people may not have liked the idea as much as “FREE CLEMENTINES.” But they would also know what they were signing up for, and could choose to fan or not fan Safeway based on accurate info. As librarians, we should be all about the accurate info, right?
- Don’t overhype what you’re offering. People felt let down by Walgreens because the whole idea of “mystery special offer” promised something better than a free shipping code that excludes a huge category (photos and photo gifts) of what you’d want to buy from Walgreens online.
- Make sure your site is robust enough to support what you’re offering. If you create a promo intending to attract thousands of fans, this probably isn’t the time to take your site down for maintenance.
- Check your technology across browsers and platforms. If your submit button for a major promo, for instance, is off the bottom of the screen and unclickable on some users’ machines, that’s a problem. If you use pop-ups that refuse to clear, that’s a problem.
Examples like these make me think about my own online presence and need for clarity. How does your library look?