Here’s a social media situation you want to avoid for your business, no matter if you have a small business or a large one:
In June, I visited New York City with my boyfriend and co-founder, Ryan. We visited the Empire State Building (ESB) on June 19th and saw this sign (in the photo above) near the observatory entrance. Since Ryan is the visual expert between the two of us, he figured he had a chance to enter this contest and possibly win one of the grand prizes.
Fast forward to yesterday, August 3rd: I did some sleuthing of the hashtag, #ESBHeartOfNYC, to see who the other contestants were. It seemed like not many people were using the hashtag, so our chances of winning were even higher. However, I found it strange that across all of the Empire State Building’s social media channels, there was no mention of this hashtag or the contest. I posted on their Facebook Page and received the response in the photo above.
“Hi Helene — Please note we do not currently have a photo contest running. When we have any further information we will post it here and on our other social channels so stay tuned! In the meantime if you’d like to submit your photo for our Facebook Fan Photos Album please send it to us via private message. Thank you.”
Then why did they have that display up at the Empire State Building?
Also, what’s this on their Facebook Page:
Yes, the text might say that the #ESBHeartOfNYC contest is over, but why do they still have the Page Tab available?
A Cautionary Tale For Your Social Media Team
There must have been a miscommunication somewhere in the Empire State Building‘s marketing department. However, I find it strange that the response I received did not explain why I saw that sign (and please note, the dates specifically say July 1 – August 26, 2015, NOT 2014). I like how the response said,
“When we have any further information we will post it here and on our other social channels so stay tuned!”
I am feeling hesitant to trust their social media presence because of this mistake now. I am not even sure that any of the other social media users using the hashtag are aware that there’s no contest.
What You Can Learn From #ESBHeartOfNYC:
- Be transparent – If your brand offers a contest through social media and the prize somehow disappears (where did the $10,000 go?!) OR you decide to cancel the contest, be upfront about this. There was no mention across the Empire State Building‘s social media channels of the contest even getting canceled. As I said before, I find it hard to trust the ESB’s social media presence with how they handled this contest situation.
- Make sure all your teammates are on the same page! – Whether you’re outsourcing your social media or you have an in-house team, make sure everyone is on the same page before you release any new social media news or promotions. If even one team member has the wrong information and shares it publicly on social media (or, in this case, makes a big in-person display), then it’ll be up to you to put out the figurative fires.
- Stay consistent – If you’re going to cancel a contest on social media, make the announcement across all your platforms. Don’t just assume that people already know, because usually they don’t. I am probably not the only fan to contact the Empire State Building regarding this contest; they might have announced canceling the contest on Twitter, but they definitely did not make that announcement on Facebook since the “Photo Contest” tab is still rather prominent on their Facebook Page.
Here’s to avoiding these kinds of social media mistakes for your brand!
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