Tag Archives: Facebook

How NOT to do online marketing

There’s an iconic South African brand that I follow on Facebook. I follow them for a number of reasons: the brand represents so much in terms of comfort (food) and growing up in South Africa and they have an interactive and engaging Facebook page. And I follow a lot of different brands because I enjoy learning from them.

South African products

This particular brand held a Valentine’s Day competition where, if you answered a question they posed, whoever gave the best answer could win a branded item. The prize wasn’t massive – in fact, it was really small. But there were over 150 responses to their question! And I was one of them – in my personal capacity. I was disproportionately thrilled when I won one of the prizes! Who doesn’t like to be acknowledged and made a winner?

This brand did a brilliant job creating interest and engagement with their Valentine’s Day campaign. They used images, questions, fun facts, tips – they did everything right. They managed to get people talking and interacting (which increases their organic reach on Facebook). I’m sure this campaign spread from social media in to real life too, and had people talking about it. It was that good.

Connecting on social networks

Overall I was really impressed from a professional point of view, and from a personal point of view as a consumer. And then, they let me down. After drawing me in, engaging with me, making me feel special by replying to my post, and choosing my response as a winning answer, they managed to undo all the hard work they’d done. They broke my personal and professional heart.

They (the Digital Agency who manages their online platforms) sent me an email with an attachment that I was asked to complete with all my details including my Identity Number (I think this may be a legal requirement in terms of the Consumer Protection Act). What an effective way of throwing a wet cloth over my excitement! And then, the content of the actual email.


It was a long, generic letter that they clearly use to communicate with all their online-giveaway winners. But it was impersonal and, to be quite honest, I felt used. They’d worked really hard to get my attention on Facebook, get me engaging with them and then… that’s it. The relationship ended. And the very worst thing was that they addressed me as ‘Dear Lucky Winner’ – I didn’t even have a name! I just feel that after going to all that trouble to engage with people and create a connection, it’s such a waste not to use their names, especially as it would have been so easy just to refer to the post and see what our names are.

This incident can teach us much about online engagement, which was why I chose to blog about it. Digital communication is such a dynamic field. Despite the constant updates, changes, revisions, progressions and additions, there are some rules that should always be followed:

  • It’s called social media – so be social! Connect with people; ask questions; answer them
  • Don’t automate your responses. You can’t create a connection by digitising responses. If people go to the effort of talking to you, talk back to them!
  • If you have a social media account, keep it active. Don’t create a Facebook page or Twitter profile and leave it dormant – rather don’t have the page at all
  • Do create social media pages! (All you competitors have them.) This is probably the first place people will look to connect with you. And then respond to them.
  • Keep you content fresh and relevant. Don’t be scared to share information with potential customers. You’re not giving your intellectual property away for free – you’re investing in relationships



Put your best face forward


Our editor, Darren has just recently updated his profile picture to a photo that’s been taken for the magazine. It’s a really well-styled photo and looks very editory – as it should. This got me thinking about the photos we upload to Facebook and choose to share with the world. In particular, I started thinking about the profile pictures we use to represent ourselves and our personalities in this very public domain.

We don’t give a second thought to sharing with the world our very private moments with friends and family. It’s not like we’d willy-nilly put up photos of ourselves drinking with friends in a Jacuzzi on street poles or on bulletin boards at shopping malls. But we happily click away and slap them up on Facebook without a second thought. Maybe that’s because we get to select, very carefully, what we share with the rest of the world (usually and, if not, we can threaten to unfriend those who won’t remove the less-than-generous photos) – we can choose the persona we allow others to see. In fact, we can create the person we’d like others to believe we are.


And then there are the photos we have where we woke up in the morning feeling, and looking, a lot like P. Diddy – these are the pictures we don’t want others to see, and we don’t subject the universe to them via the Internet, for fear of malevolent reprisal. Such photos look somewhat like these:

Beauty editor, Tessa letting her guard down

Beauty editor, Tessa letting her guard down

Me enjoying my coffee and dancing – as you do

In some Native American cultures, people were wary of having their photos taken because they believed the process could steal their soul and that it disrespected the spirit world. I totally get that. Some photos that have been taken of me look like my soul has been stolen and that the spirit world, disrespected by me, is taking revenge.

So are the photos we put up on Facebook glamorous glimpses of who we’d like to be, as my Mister so eloquently put it? Do these profile pictures represent an aspirational us? And if so aren’t we misrepresenting ourselves to the world? I think of all my old school friends and acquaintances with who I’m now Facebook friends: are they actually the well-groomed, poised and beautiful specimens of humanity they purport to be, or do they in reality have faces like dropped pies?

Are we at risk of setting ourselves and others up for disappointment as we’ve come to expect and believe that this is what we look and behave like? My Mister’s Facebook pictures (mis)represent him as a wild party-animal, probably not dissimilar to how he was when he was 21 (a good couple of years ago). In fact, now he likes nothing more than to share a good bottle of Cab Sav with some friends around a braai. He’s not the beer-chugging, tequila-swilling wild man the photos make him look like (despite what his mother thinks).

Fleur du Cap Unfiltered Cabernet Sauvignon 2010
Fleur du Cap Unfiltered Cabernet Sauvignon 2010

I had a look at the Facebook profiles of some my colleagues and came to the conclusion that their profile pics are a good representation of them … on a good day. Just like mine is a great representation of what a mediocre picture can look like with some great Instagraming thrown in.

Features, consumer and travel editor
Features, consumer and travel editor, Taryn
Picture and managing editor, Kirsten

Picture and managing editor, Kirsten

Me and my Mister, Instagrammed to within an inch of our lives

Me and my Mister, Instagrammed to within an inch of our lives

Editor Darren

Editor Darren

To see what the Essentials team looks like when we’re normal have a look at our website: http://bit.ly/ZvEXHs

Is your Facebook profile picture and accurate representation of who you are? Or does it represent a person you wish you could be all the time?