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Social Marketing: How to Generate a Strong Social Media Influence

Inbound Marketing

In today’s digital world, social marketing has become a powerful tool for businesses. Social marketing can allow businesses to reach consumers, interact and engage, and get feedback. But with this incredible social media influence can also come the greatest fears… scandals, disasters, and mistakes.

Social Marketing: The Mistakes That Generated Follower Growth

Morning, Monday February 18th a news article was published online by ‘Global Associated News’ detailing a horrible car accident involving Dallas Cowboys’ quarterback Tony Romo:

“A spokesperson for the Dallas highway safety authority (HSA) has confirmed that Tony Romo has broken both of his legs in a traffic altercation. He has been transported via ambulance to a local Dallas hospital for treatment, and the full extent of his injuries are not known at this time, however, both of his legs were visibly broken and not life threatening according to sources.

The accident involved a 2012 BMW driven by Tony Romo and a 76 year old female driver in a 2010 Audi. The driver of the Audi was issued a citation for failing to stop at a red light before striking the vehicle driven by Tony Romo at a high rate of speed.

Team spokespersons could not be reached for comment at this time.”

Within hours Tony Romo’s car accident hoax had blown up on social media; countless forums were talking about, it had been tweeted and retweeted hundreds of times, local radio and news had begun to run with this story, trying to determine the validity. By Monday evening it was all over the metroplex, it had even reached an online New York newspaper, and yet it was ultimately determined to be FALSE.

So why did a fake story have such a strong social media influence? Because the content was…


This story was a very relevant event to the culture of the DFW area and to sports news in general. The content that businesses publish on social media needs to follow this guideline; content needs to be Relevant to the audience that is trying to be reached. You won't be able to generate a strong social media influence if content is outdated, uninteresting, or isn't relevant to your audience.

Earlier this week Burger King announced via their official twitter feed that the company had been sold to its biggest rival, McDonalds. Not only did their feed mark this historic sale but they began posting pro-McDonalds messages and even detailed their own employee drug use. It turns out that hackers took control of Burger King’s account, replacing their name and image with the McDonald’s logo.

While Burger King’s worst social media nightmare came to fruition and while they were trying to get their twitter account suspended and under control, their followers jumped from 82,968 at the beginning of the fiasco to currently 113,200 (11:30 am, 2/20/13), a 36% increase in followers.

Why did a hacked account have so much social media influence and grow new followers? Because it was…


This disaster for Burger King was so memorable that within a day, their followers and Twitter reach had increased dramatically. Therefore, the next guideline companies need to follow is: social marketing content published must be Memorable for the audience that is trying to be reached.

A few years ago US Airways flight 1549 had to make an emergency landing on the Hudson River, it reached around the United States in less than an hour. The emergency landing happened at 3:26 in the afternoon, at 4:12 pm, 46 minutes later, US Airways made their official statement.

Normally that is a pretty quick turnaround, except for the fact that by 4:04 pm the first photo by a witness was tweeted, the Wall Street Journal and Google News had posted about the event, and MSNBC had interviewed the witness that tweeted the original photo.

How could US Airways be beat to the punch with 8 minutes to spare? Because the social marketing content was…


The influence of a fresh, current event can be seen the sheer speed at which this spread. US Airways got out their statement with impressive timing but it wasn’t a match to the incredible speed at which social media was able to produce. As a result, the last guideline companies need to follow regarding social marketing content is: social marketing content needs to be fresh and current in order to attract the audience that is trying to be reached.

In the past there have been some companies that apply this with a lot of success, and even some when it comes to a more “social media disaster management” event.

With Successful Social Marketing Comes Great Influence

Southwest Airlines in particular had success in doing this. A few years ago two young women were escorted of a Southwest plane for being abusive and disruptive to passengers and flight attendants. Being media savvy, the women contacted a local news station regarding being discriminated against and made to leave the airplane. It got a lot of attention and picked up by news stations coast-to-coast.

Southwest took this as an opportunity to use social marketing to gain public favor with all the bad press, a tactic also used by Maker's Mark. They used their social media influence to ask consumers their opinion about the event, to get feedback on the situation. Southwest also issued an official press release detailing the event and released a video with their employees expressing their opinion about what happened. Consumers were impressed by this and overall the potentially disastrous event was handled very well with the use of social marketing.

Even with a fiasco, social marketing is a valuable when paired with content that is Fresh, Memorable, and Relevant (or Remarkable Content), has the power to increase social media influence and pull in genuinely interested, eager consumers.

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