If you have been following my blog for more than a week, you know that I am a big proponent of social media. We have used it at Thomas Nelson to achieve some dramatic results, particularly for a few of our authors who don’t otherwise have a media platform. As a result, I am convinced that social media marketing works. Except when it doesn’t.
Yesterday, I was reading a blog post by Tim Ferriss, author of The 4-Hour Work Week. I am a fan of his, so when I discovered that he had worked with StumbleUpon to develop a new blog traffic builder called Su.pr (pronounced “Super”), I got very excited.According to Tim, the program:
- Submits your content to StumbleUpon’s 7.9 million users with each post
- Showcases your best content in a right-hand sidebar for each page you link to
- Provides suggestions for optimal posting times, resulting in more traffic per post
- Schedules as many tweets or posts as you want, for any time
- Enables you to see your click-throughs in real-time
- Allows you to see your retweets for each post, including the biggest influencers (ranking coming soon)
- Posts to Twitter and Facebook at the same time, with more platforms in the pipeline
- Provides a way for you to use your own short URL (i.e. michaelhyatt.com/ab123) instead of someone else’s branding
So, I headed over to the Su.pr site to sign up. I discovered that it was in “private beta.” To sign-up, you have to enter an invite code. Thankfully, Tim had provided one on his site. When I entered it, I received this message: “Sorry, the invite code you entered is no longer valid” (see screenshot below).
No, problem, I thought. Tim said he only had 50, so I obviously got here too late.
When I clicked on the Request one link, Su.pr told me to follow StumbleUpon on Twitter—they would be posting invite codes there (see screenshot below). So I dutifully did as I was asked and begin following. I thought, Um. This might be a cool promotional tool.
After a few hours, I noticed that StumbleUpon had not posted any invitation codes. So, I decided to check StumbleUpon’s Twitter profile. I was surprised that they had not provided an update since February 20. I kid you not (see screenshot below)!
Obviously, someone dropped the ball. Frustrating prospective users is not the way to build your brand online—especially a new brand. What can we learn from this? Five things:
- Don’t launch a new project until it is ready.
- Make sure you have checked every path a prospective customer might take.
- Check and double-check links to make sure you know where they lead.
- Don’t go big on the promotion until you know for sure you have everything working.
- If you screw up, fix it and then admit it—fast!
We hear a lot of talk about viral marketing. What people sometimes forget is that it also works in reverse when customers have a bad experience. Think of this as viral anti-marketing.
Update: Just as I was finishing this post, TechCrunch posted a few more invite codes. I went to the Su.pr site and was pleased that I got in. I got past the first screen and was asked to enter my username, email, and password. However, I was also supposed to enter some CAPTCHA code to protect the site against spam robots. Unfortunately, my browser wouldn’t display the code (see screenshot below). I tried it on two different browsers (Safari 4 and Firefox 3, both on the Mac.)
I’m not sure about the product, but the marketing is definitely not ready for prime time.