Blog: How social media marketing can go wrong

Katie Smith | 16 November 2011

A swathe of food manufacturers and retailers are using social media and technology to boost brand awareness, launching apps and giving freebies to customers who 'like' certain pages.

In April, Frito-Lay's Facebook community gained over 1.5m new 'likes' in 24 hours and as a result of which fans were rewarded with free bags of potato crisps. This year, Frito-Lay owner PepsiCo teamed up with Highland Capital Partners, aiming to use social media more effectively.

However, marketing products through social networks can very occasionally go wrong. Ask HJ Heinz.

On Monday (14 November), the ketchup maker moved to launch its latest variant (a sauce blended with balsamic vinegar) in the US via its local Facebook page.

When consumers tried to order the ketchup on Facebook, they encountered technical difficulties that meant they could not immediately buy the product.

As a result, Heinz offered a free additional bottle plus free shipping to every consumer that placed an order up until yesterday. It has also tried to win back fans by tempting them with free shipping to every consumer that posted on the site when it was down temporarily on Monday.

However, there didn't seem to be any problems with the UK launch. The sauce was successfully launched in the UK in March as the first 3,000 bottles were available for sale exclusively on Facebook, before the sauce appeared on shelves.

Will this affect how Heinz uses social networking sites in the future?

When asked whether the glitch has made Heinz more reluctant to use Facebook and other networking sites in the future to sell or market brands, it said: "Heinz remains steadfast in our commitment to social media."


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