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Faster than a Speeding Tweet

Promotions and contests are a popular marketing tool used by most companies. You see promotions everywhere from on-line games on Facebook to win gift cards to getting your quarter in the shot glass for a free milkshake. It’s a simple tool that can drive business sales.

Who DOESN'T want a free sandwich?!

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But what happens when social media turns against you? That’s what happened tonight to Papa Johns. Their most recent promotion is the Papa John’s Coin Toss. Papa John’s encouraged their customers to vote on whether the coin in the coin toss at Super Bowl XLVI would land on heads or tails. If American guessed correctly, those enrolled in Papa Rewards would receive a free pizza and bottle of Pepsi MAX. America chose Heads (60% of the votes) and that is what it landed on. They announced they would send an e-mail on Monday the 6th (today) with a code for rewards members to use to redeem their freebies. Earlier today they made another announcement saying people should check their e-mail accounts at 4 pm EST. And when 4 pm EST came and left, people were unhappy. I tracked #freepapajohns on TweetDeck and America spoke – and they were not happy. People went from simply asking if they were going to e-mail to saying they would just order from Pizza Hut instead to a few threatening to sue the company! Eventually some customers received their Papa Rewards code. (I, unfortunately, have not. Papa Johns? Bueller? Bueller?)

Authors Edit to add: I did receive my rewards code the next day and promptly ordered my free pizza that night. YUM!

This was a great example of how quickly word spreads thanks to social media. All it takes is a small rumble before an all out, angry twitter storm.

Twitter - the Original Angry Bird

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Have you seen bad press through social media because of a promotion or contest before?

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To Tweet or Not to Tweet

If you were to poll a random group of people, asking them “What does the term ‘social media’ mean to you?”, you would likely end up with several different answers. Social media means something different to different types of people. To an educated scholar, social media could be seen as a tool to market a product or themself. To a 20-something college student, social media could be seen as a way to communicate with family and friends without having to talk on the phone. To a young teenager, social media could be a way for them to creep on that cute boy/girl in their math class. And to my mom, social media is a way to grow and harvest crops without ever leaving the living room. But, there has to be a connecting factor between the different platforms of social media.

Connecting & Communicating

One of those factors is connecting. Social media is used to connect people to people, businesses to people, and business to business. According to this article by Nielsen one of the top three most popular social media brands is Facebook. Facebook helps both people and businesses interact with each other. While completing an internship out-of-state, Facebook (and Twitter) helped me stay in touch with family and friends from home. Sure, I could have called them, but the hours I worked it was much easier to get on the computer while lying in bed and update my Facebook status than calling everyone I wanted to contact. It opened up a quick and easy line of communication; but, this isn’t always seen as a positive thing. Some may find that this kind of communication is killing the art of the hand written letter and the personal qualities of a phone call. I believe this to be partly true. I can’t be the only one who misses letters in the mail that helped balance out all the bills and junk mail. But, in today’s fast paced society, instant gratification is becoming a norm causing the ability to achieve immediate responses a necessity. This is causing a change in how businesses need to interact with their clientele. For example, I recently had an unpleasant experience at a chain restaurant in Germantown, TN. I grabbed a business card for the manager and wrote him an e-mail Thursday evening. I received a response Sunday afternoon, 3 days later. I found them on Twitter and saw that someone was unhappy about their food and they replied back to their tweet the same day! Instant gratification.

It's all about connecting and building relationships.

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 From Wikipedia to YouTube and from Twitter to your favorite podcasts, social media is all about connecting to people, communicating with people, and sharing content with people. There are still kinks to figure out, but we’re well on our way to changing our relationships with who we’re trying to reach.

So, dear readers, are you a fan of where social media is and where it is headed? Why or why not?