One of the best things about working in marketing is the ability to experiment with emerging technology. From geo-located Snapchat filters to interactive big billboards in cities - marketers use technology to be creative on many different fronts. But not all marketing is glamorous and even the best marketers can be sucked in by the buzz of a new technique or product to get their brand to the top. Here are 4 of the worst fads in marketing from the past few years!
QR codes could have been awesome. Unfortunately, they just never took off to the level marketers thought they would and that’s for a few reasons. One, the lack of public awareness meant people had no idea what they were. People also had no idea they had to download an app to their phones to scan the codes. And let’s be honest, they’re actually not that attractive and look quite out of place on a stunningly designed piece of marketing collateral.
The thing about QR codes is they also come with a certain level of responsibility. Heinz ketchup learnt this the hard way when they ran a design your own ketchup bottle campaign. After the campaign they let the domain expire and an adult entertainment company purchased it. A German man scanned the QR code thinking he was going to design his own ketchup bottle, instead he was unexpectedly confronted with an adult entertainment site. Heinz apologised and offered the man a bottle of ketchup. The adult site also offered him a 1 year subscription.
QR codes can work though, if you’re marketing them to the right crowd of people - tech savvy IT folk are a good starting point - you can create genuine cut through. But you need to ask yourself, how many of your friends have QR scanners on their phones? And how many actively use them?
Keyword stuffing is when a piece of content is search engine optimised by putting as many keywords in as possible. The end goal is to have the content show up higher in Google search results. Today this method is considered a black-hat/dirty method of SEO. But in the past marketers were going to town, overstuffing their content with keywords galore in a bid to get their content to the coveted number one spot on Google, even if the keywords weren’t relevant.
Google, and other search engines, have cottoned on to the fact that content jampacked with keywords becomes difficult to read and annoys a user, often leading them to exit the page and move on. Nowadays search engine algorithms are a lot smarter and will penalise the overuse of keywords like in the example below.
Automation and pre-written tweets have taken a lot of manual labour away from marketers. Those who have set up their systems well will tell you it’s a lifesaver. But sometimes tweets should just be made by a person and in real-time, not doing this means you risk an online nightmare.
Take the example of pre-scheduling tweets for a Radiohead concert in Canada. Prior to the show the stage collapsed and killed one and injured others. The show was cancelled and the promoter of the show, LiveNation, sent out a tweet letting people know. Unluckily someone at LiveNation HQ forgot to cancel all the scheduled tweets. Half an hour after the cancellation announcement the scheduled tweets started coming out and the Twitter-verse, unsurprisingly, was not too impressed. According to Unmarketing the tweets remained live for 45 minutes!
What’s the lesson here? Scheduled tweets DO have a place - just not in this situation. Think before you schedule your next tweet.
Another marketing fad we’re so glad is starting to disappear is the practice of buying followers. Remember the days where your boss wanted your brand to be a viral sensation with 100k+ fans? All that mattered were how many followers you had and that you had more than your competitors - no care was given if they were engaged with your content or not. This was back in the day when you could run th
ose campaigns on Facebook such as ‘like and share for your chance to win’.
There once was a time where you could purchase followers and likes (actually you still can but you shouldn’t). Yo
u could shell out a few hundred dollars and within a week your fan page would hit the magic number. Not only did this leave you feeling a little dirty, it had a mammoth negative effect on your social standing.
What’s more, Facebook and Twitter caught on - they tweaked their algorithms and now any brand with non-engaged followers won’t have their content appear organically in fan’s newsfeeds. In 2015, they also made an active stance to delete all inactive and fake accounts. Accounts world-wide saw their fan count plummet. Worse yet, for those who purchased fake likes, the fake users are usually from a country not relevant to your business. This means when you pay to boost a post on Facebook the targeting will be drastically off, and you’ll be spending all your money for your sponsored post to show in the newsfeed of your inactive fans in Uzbekistan. Probably the worst part of buying fans is that you will have to spend time and money trying to fix the damage of buying likes and followers, and there’s no guarantee the damage can ever be fixed.
Marketing is fierce and competitive industry, all marketers want to get their brand to the top and will go to great lengths to achieve their goals. Every now and then a new marketing fad will pop up and will appear to be the end of all their woes, however before buying likes or auto tweeting, take a step back and have a long hard think about what this could do to your brand in the long run. If you want to learn the best way to automate your marketing and avoid any marketing fads, download our no-nonsense guide today!
Can you think of any more terrible marketing fads? Tell us in the comments below.