Social Marketing Risks and Challenges it Presents Brands

When a brand or company decides to move forward and implement a social marketing campaign there are inherent risks that need to be taken into consideration.  When a brand goes social it means more than just extending the brand awareness and reach, it means the company is giving consumers more opportunity to impact the perception of that particular brand or company.  This alone is a risk companies need to measure prior to even getting involved in social marketing, do they want to create an interactive atmosphere that broadcasts potential negative feedback and views to consumers?  Aside from just the external factors that create risk for companies looking to go social there are a number of internal contingencies that need to be addressed as well.

One company that has recently had some struggles with the nature in which they launched social media marketing is Motrin.  Motrin decided to implement YouTube Video campaigns to highlight International Baby Wearing Week.  One of the risks a company needs to address before taking charge and launching social media campaigns does not fully know how the public will respond.  In the case of Motrin the company took a risk and launched the videos without fully having a grasp of the knowledge of actual consumer interests, leading to little connection between campaign and consumer.  This created a situation where Motrin did not understand its audience and underestimated the reach social media has in terms of pure number of people it impacts.  The result of the campaign was major discontent amongst Moms who say the ads as using children as fashion statements.

The launching of social media marketing campaigns as one can see present a number of risks and challenges prior to the launch of the campaign, however this is not where the risks and challenges stop.  As a result of the YouTube video Motrin launched a number of angry Moms and consumers posted negative comments and began their own social media campaign against the advertisement.  One of the inherent risks of going social is just that your open to the public and you can create a target on your back if you misstep.  Motrin also made a few more follow up mistakes by not addressing the negative feedback and waiting days to pull the advertisement from running.   Risk can be limited if companies and brands dedicate more time and resources prior to diving into the social marketing trend.

 Challenges will always present themselves regardless of the marketing endeavor however companies and brands can forecast these with better planning and devise different out routes when these issues arise.  In the case of Motrin the company was taking a risk playing of a popular week for Moms and was trying to connect with that segment of their market.  Unfortunately Motrin did not realize the magnitude of the impact the commercial would have in a negative way.  Once something goes social you cannot go back and reverse it time, someone somewhere will see which is both an advantage of going social but in this case a disadvantage when mistakes have been made.  Social marketing costs money and Motrin wasted a lot of it by not coordinating the launch in a way that had trial runs prior to going live.  Motrin took a risk without fully be cognizant of the reaction its target market would have.  In a way it seemed the consumers were more social media savvy than Motrin as the company was not fully aware of the reach and how to deal with the negative response as shown in its lack of response to the negative feedback and the slow reaction time to pulling the commercial.    

You be the Judge is this YouTube Social Media Advertisement release show poor judgment by Motrin?

Here are two links to great articles regarding social media failures: 


Parr, B. (2009, March 8). 5 examples of social media blunders and what to learn from them . Retrieved from  



2 thoughts on “Social Marketing Risks and Challenges it Presents Brands

  1. Well I went ahead and watch the YouTube video you posted on the controversial Motrin commerical and in my opinion consumers have become too strung up on insignificant things. They are creating something from nothing, at least this is how I feel and it may be part bias because I’m not a mother. The target market for this commercial is primarily mothers and secondary those who also have back pain. The message I got from this commerical is that mothers who do use a baby carrier bare a lot of pain and Motrin can help – not that babies are a fashion accessory!

    One more thing I wanted to point out was that I like what you state here, “…the company is giving consumers more opportunity to impact the perception of that particular brand or company.” My question to you is that you say companies need to measure this risk prior to getting into social media. How or what do you suppose companies use to measure this risk? For traditional marketing, you can take historical numbers of the performance of a direct mail piece to develop goals and measurements, but when it comes to social media and measuring measure the risk, I guess it would mean measuring the unknown and I was curious how you would recommend doing this.

  2. I had never heard of this controversy, so I watched the YouTube video. I thought it was a little in poor taste, and after watching a few of the response videos I see that many moms thought it definitely was! There was even one YouTube which was a compilation of Tweets in response to the original Motrin video ( What I took as a common theme was that moms were shocked that there was no testing done to make sure the target market would enjoy the ad. If this is true (and not just reactionary words), I see that as almost a bigger problem than one social media misstep. Even if the video had no potential to be controversial, I would think it would be common procedure to test ad concepts. If there is a silver lining here, Motrin (and other companies) can learn that bad choices can travel faster and further via social media than a company could ever hope for a good campaign, so testing concepts ahead of time is very important.

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