This week I came across three particular uses of social media that came so close, yet too far, from being good. Let’s take a closer look….

Not too bad
Spotted at the Air Canada Centre on the way to the women’s washroom was a full-wall decal promoting Now! 19 featuring the dreaded QR code. (Yes, Now! is at 19. Yes, that makes me feel a million years old.) Now, the placement is perfect. The QR code was large enough to scan from a few feet away, and folks waiting in line are a sufficiently captive audience ripe for distraction, and so more likely to go through the hassle of scanning a QR code. And yet… all it did was take me straight to the iTunes download page for the album! Okay, fine, it did take me straight to the iTunes download page for the album, which is mobile-optimized, and from which I could buy music right away. And while scanning a QR code was actually easier than hunting down the album download page myself, was it wrong for me to expect a little freebie before the sell? A mashup video of the tracks à la DJ Earworm? Alrighty. My expectations are too high. Duly noted.

Getting closer
Coors Light Iced T has a full spread in the latest Food and Drink magazine.

Now I have already tried Coors Light Iced T (its what-were-they-thinking acronym aside) and I will save you the experiment and let you know it is not good. Yet even with my negative experience, this ad got my hopes up! I followed the directions, placed my “mobile device” (that outline is clearly for an iPhone) as directed, and…. was taken directly to a mobile optimized form for me to enter my birth date. Yikes. Way to diffuse anticipation. Ok, it’s probably a legal requirement and not their choice at all. But do you think the average Coors Light Iced T demographic is going go through the hassle of scanning a QR and fill out a form (…no offense to the Coors Light Iced T demographic)? Well, I continued. And I was directed to their TV commercial. That’s it. I mean kudos for the real clear visual cohesiveness between the print and digital elements of the campaign, but there is a heck of a lot expected from the user to create the experience. I went through all that work to watch an ad that I already see on TV. I was expecting an immediate play of an ad that at some point synced completely with the print material. But, I’m still thinking about it, which gives me hope for more successful QR code campaigns to come.

What is this I don’t even
People tweet while they watch shows. It’s fun! People like sharing experiences. I remember the phone calls immediately after Chase and Cameron made out on House a few years ago. So it is now with twitter. Some shows (hi @DowntonAbbey) have created their own handles. Folks are going to talk about you anyway, so you better be part of the conversation. Sometimes, folks resort of creating their own short and simple hashtags. #Fringe, for example. #30Rock. Sports fans do it too: #TMLTalk (Leafs), #Raps (Raptors),  #GoRockGo (Rock). And then someone somewhere decided we needed to be more specific with our hashtags. I started noticing hashtags on my Toronto Rock tickets. I can’t even remember what they were. But they were geared towards the game night’s theme. #VeteransNight or something like that. My dear Toronto Rock, why don’t you focus on building a critical mass of folks just tweeting the game mentioning @TorontoRockLax and #GoRockGo before diluting the voice with new hashtags? Furthermore, the themes on which these game-specific hashtags were based really only apply to those in the ACC.  The whole point of an audience live-tweeting is that they can share the experience equally from their own locations, even if they’re playing from home.

And TV shows, too, got carried away.  For one thing, @GameofThrones, folks use #GameofThrones. And they use #GoT, because it’s ten fewer characters and that is a complex show about which to tweet. So what in Winterfell is up with this:

(I was tempted to use this gif, but opted for subtlety.)

#TheOldGodsandTheNew is too long. But there’s plenty of space on this hyper-specific-and-far-too-long-hashtag bandwagon. Fringe, who featured a #Fringe watermark on their show long before other folks clued in, has started showing the episode title as the watermark instead. Last episode’s was something like #DarkestBeforeDawn. For one thing, again, that hashtag is way too long. For another, why do you want us to mention the episode title in our tweets? We’re watching your show, and probably #-ing or @-ing your show by name. And based on the time of the tweet, and the content of the tweet, it’s clear what episode we’re referring to! You want me to give up my precious characters for your benefit? Have you noticed how verbose I am?

And, I mean come on, if I resort to using a specific episode’s hashtag while tweeting about your show, how are the folks in my feed supposed to know what show I’m watching? If a stream is filled with a show’s name I have heard, but not yet watched, I’ll think Ah, lots of tweets about this show. Maybe I shall start watching it. That’s how I started watching Girls. I see a bunch of tweets with #DarkestBeforeDawn? I think my friends are either all having a rough day, or there is a new show called Darkest Before Dawn. I’m not going to make the connection to Fringe. So let’s cool those hashtag-happy-heels shall we?

Alright. That was a lot of writing about QR codes and hashtags for sports teams and television shows. But what boggles my mind is that people, who are  probably definitely getting paid more than me, whose pitches for incorporating social media get approved by even better-paid bigwigs in charge of sports teams‘ and television shows‘ communications strategies, come up so short some times. We got a long way to go before social media and corporate advertising do well together folks.

Have you seen any really good (or really bad) examples of social media merging with advertising and entertainment?


2 thoughts on “#socialmediafails

  1. Yeah I really don’t get the whole episode title hashtag. Maybe so folks who don’t want spoilers can avoid it? Really, if we’re tweeting about your show, that’s good enough. I forget to hashtag half the time anyway. No way am I gonna remember #darkestbeforedawn. You also run the risk of ending up mixed with someone else’s hashtag.

    I can’t say I can recall any big fails off the top of my head, but they’ve happened, and these are actually relatively minor, I’d say. My favourite is seeing QR codes either on the subway or on billboards on the Gardiner. Seem very odd places. Yes, if the signal is right and someone is a passenger they might be able to scan those, but often not.

    Can’t say I like QR codes in general, really. The idea is neat, but the execution always seems to be bad.

    • As always, thanks for commenting!

      What’s such a shame is QR codes *can* be good. I swear they can! Perfect examples are found elsewhere in Food and Drink magazine where they take you to a recipe to pair with a specific drink, and on a poster promoting a book that gave you the first chapter when you scanned it. It kills me to see them on underground transit. And I have yet to see one on a streetcar or that many on buses, which is so odd since they’re definitely above ground most of the time!

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