No Laughing Matter

January 17, 2013 9:36 am

Social media hoaxes may be funny to the perpetrators, but they can do serious damage to brand reputation


Social media is manna from heaven for pranksters. Even though some brands and companies seem to be experts in making social media faux pas, satirists and spoofers have embraced the medium as a means of freeing their inner David Thorne.

Of course to those companies being spoofed, these hoaxes are no laughing matter – as Just Jeans has discovered recently. As reported in the Sydney Morning Herald, the fashion retailer recently experienced a hoax account on its Facebook page that ‘played havoc on users’.

Visitors who posted comments on the page received responses from an account registered as ‘Just Jeans’ and featuring the retailer’s logo as its profile image. Which is precisely what you would expect, given that Social Media Marketing Lesson 1 is ‘engage with your customers’.


The respondent wasn’t Just Jeans but a hoaxer masquerading as the store. As a result, as the Herald reports, ‘One customer was told their comment was “so last year”, while others directed to an online “voucher” that showed an offensive picture of [AFL] footballer Ben Cousins.

‘Another customer, who left a positive message about customer service, was told the staff member involved had “filed a complaint” against her.’

Needless to say, these people were less than happy, but the fact that it took Just Jeans 12 hours to realise the problem, block the person responsible, delete the fake comments and assure their customers that they were doing everything possible to rectify the problem is a cause for concern.

 The importance of monitoring

Monitoring your social media presence – be it Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube or whatever – is an essential part of any social media and content marketing strategy.

To begin with, monitoring is a prerequisite for engagement. After all, how can you have a conversation with people if you don’t know what they are saying? But careful, close monitoring also enables companies to avoid the sort of situation being experienced now by Just Jeans and Jetstar in November last year when a hoaxer hijacked its Facebook page.

Moreover, as The Message reported at the height of last year’s Target fiasco, ‘companies are responsible for the comments posted by others on their corporate Facebook page. So if someone has posted something racist, sexist, otherwise offensive or libellous, the company is responsible’. Which means there is now a legal necessity to closely monitor your social media output.

Of course, that doesn’t mean deleting every single post that criticises you. Weeding out trolls is fine, but taking criticism on board and showing that you can learn from it is crucial when it comes to creating meaningful relationships with customers.

Simply deleting posts or suddenly changing privacy settings sends out one of two messages: either that, despite your rhetoric, you don’t really care about the thoughts and opinions of your social media audience (your customers, in other words); or that you don’t really understand social media – in which case you probably shouldn’t be using it.

Regular contact is crucial

Perhaps the most damaging detail to emerge from the Just Jeans hoax is not the hoax itself but the fact that store’s Facebook page, which has a reasonably impressive 18,600 ‘likes’ had not been visibly active since December. Even allowing for the Christmas break, that hardly speaks of a company that wants to engage with its customers.

With social media, it really is all or nothing. As Just Jeans has found, simply setting up a Facebook page is not enough – indeed, it can be quite disastrous if not supported by a cogent strategy for monitoring and managing all social media output.


The Message is brought to you by Tick Yes – providing solutions for all your digital and content marketing needs.


  • News & Views Don’t Forget to Pat the Dog

    Don’t Forget to Pat the Dog

    A few days ago I posted an article called The Stupidity of Silence where I suggested that ceasing all contact when someone doesn’t give you what you want is a really dumb strategy. Here’s another one. We’re looking to sell our house at the moment. Part of the process is interviewing real estate agents. Theirs is an incredibly competitive business where all they’re offering is reputation and the perceived ability to persuade people to buy. The first agent who came […]

    Read more →
  • Content Marketing How to Make Your Content Actionable

    How to Make Your Content Actionable

    Content is not a magical formula that will make your target audience find your product and then breathlessly buy from you. The power of actionable content comes from your ability to attract the right audience, enabling them to interact with you and then to elevate that relationship to the next level i.e. for them to become a customer. So, how do you make your content actionable? Most importantly, you must give the reader, viewer or listener a sense of how they […]

    Read more →
  • News & Views The Stupidity of Silence

    The Stupidity of Silence

    It always astounds me when people in business don’t follow-up with a simple thank you email or even a note – when was the last time you received a handwritten thank you note? – after we’ve had some type of interaction.

    Read more →
  • Email Marketing Features What you Need to Know About Email Marketing for Mobile

    What you Need to Know About Email Marketing for Mobile

    It’s no secret that smartphones and tablets can no longer be ignored by email marketers—and there aren’t many more marketers out there doing so. It is a massive part of customer communication and revenue, but do you know just how massive? The following statistics come from all corners of the globe, and from many different industries. While they keep changing everyday, some are quite shocking. Here’s a brief description of everything you need to know about the power of email […]

    Read more →
  • Digital Marketing Features How to Reduce Your Media Spend & Achieve Better Results

    How to Reduce Your Media Spend & Achieve Better Results

    Digital marketing has changed the media landscape forever and marketing budgets are being spread across channels – mainly digital – that previously didn’t exist. The problem is that optimisation is not as simple as it was before; if you’re not careful, your spend can get out of hand. By optimising each of your channels, you can reduce your media spend and achieve better results – all the while proving a positive return on investment (ROI) for every dollar you spend. […]

    Read more →
  • Features News & Views Digital Marketing Lessons To Be Learnt From Donald Trump

    Digital Marketing Lessons To Be Learnt From Donald Trump

    Donald Trump teaching you marketing lessons? Seriously? Yes, seriously. Love him or hate him, Donald Trump has made the race for the White House fascinating. And fascinating doesn’t happen by chance. Exceptional marketing combined with good old fashioned, in-your-face salesmanship are central to the success of his campaign – so far. So putting aside your opinion on his politics, let’s look at what can be learned from Trump’s ‘Making America Great Again’ campaign. Know Your Audience Contrary to the opinion […]

    Read more →
  • Digital Marketing Features How to avoid digital dead ends

    How to avoid digital dead ends

    Have you ever noticed that so-called ‘express lanes’ on the road or in stores are often slower than the normal lanes? While I know it’s easy to go on auto-pilot when performing mundane chores like driving or shopping, it amazes me that people so often follow the actual signs instead of reading the signs around them. Because we humans are inherently disengaged, conflicted or uncertain as to what we should do in many situations, we’re attracted to people and things […]

    Read more →
  • Social Media When the Social Media Circus Leaves Town

    When the Social Media Circus Leaves Town

    David Bowie died almost two months ago. Soon after, we posted about the tawdry British reality TV show making money from his ex-wife’s reactions. Inevitably, her presence on the show at the time and her response to the news created a social media firestorm. Focus, of course has moved on to the latest deaths, tragedies, political intrigues and sporting victories / defeats. But it’s worth pondering the enduring impact that not being news has on the people who were previously at the centre of […]

    Read more →
  • Entertainment News & Views Chris Rock’s Oscars Lessons for Marketers

    Chris Rock’s Oscars Lessons for Marketers

    Did you see Chris Rock at last night’s Oscars? Man, he nailed it: loose, funny, topical, irreverent, black. Hang on, what was that? Black? You can’t say that! That’s, that’s, well that’s racist! In isolation it’s jarring to refer to someone’s skin colour or any other personal feature when judging work they’ve just completed. Of course, it’s also completely irrelevant. But let’s back up a bit. This year’s Oscars were all about race. After the nominations were announced in January there […]

    Read more →
  • Entertainment News & Views Surreal Reality TV

    Surreal Reality TV

    Few of us over the age of 40 have not been saddened by the death of David Bowie this week. Whether you liked his music or not, he was undoubtedly an original talent who had a profound impact on much of the culture of the 70’s and 80’s. Contrast the outpouring of love and nostalgia we’re now seeing due to Bowie’s passing with what’s happening on UK’s Celebrity Big Brother. By sheer coincidence, Bowie’s ex-wife Angie is currently a ‘resident’ […]

    Read more →