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Social Media Fail: Woolworths

Here's another example of why reaching out to users on social can be a double-edged sword.

On a sleepy Friday afternoon Woolworth's decided to kick off the weekend by asking Facebook users to “finish this sentence”. 

Can you guess what happened next?

Fresh food tweets

Soon after the Woolworth's Facebook Page asked its 170,000 fans to finish the question: “Happy weekend everyone! Finish this sentence: this weekend, I can't wait to:_____”, users responded.

Just not the way Woolworths was anticipating. Within the first hour responses included:

“destroy the local green grocer or butcher”

“do lots of shopping at Coles )”.

Just warming up

But users were just getting started. Soon the post was attracting hundred of comments, such as the following.

“Reminisce about when McDonalds make a similar marketing mistake…when will they learn”

“laugh at the slamming you have just copped!!…clearly this doesn't get monitored enough”.

And on it went.

Learnings

Woolworths started deleting comments, but apparently not enough to keep up with the surge and quickly lost control of the situation.

What is interesting that this fail happened on Facebook, where Woolworths would have expected many respondents to be fans of their Page.

Instead this played out like a Twitter implosion, and bears similar hallmarks to similar scenarios where McDonald's and Qantas both posed opened ended questions, and felt user wrath. 

The lesson: if you're a big brand it's likely you've got some interest groups who aren't your biggest fans out there. Use open-ended questions, whether on Facebook or Twitter, at your peril.

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