The #ClickFrenzy case study: How not to do social media
Anyone living in Australia would have heard about Click Frenzy by now. The heavy promotion of the 24 hour sale event the week leading up to its launch can only be matched by the blanket coverage of its absolute disaster at launch. For anyone living under a rock or for those of our friends living overseas (who may have been spared), this is a brief overview of what happened:
Click Frenzy was meant to be the Australian version of Black Friday in the USA – it was a 24 hour sales event centred on one site – www.clickfrenzy.com.au. Users had to register for the site and then when 7pm hit they had access to thousands of deals from some of the country’s biggest retailers. There was a lot of hype. And a lot of media coverage. Which undoubtedly contributed to the fact it became a huge disaster as soon as 7pm hit.
So what happened? Essentially the site just crashed. Allegedly some people got through, but judging by my own personal experience of pressing refresh no less than about 200 times between 7pm – 12am and the thousands of angry tweets coming through on the #clickfrenzy hashtag, I don’t think these few people were in the majority. It was disastrous. There is no nicer way to put it, because even now, some 12+ hours later, the site is still experiencing issues. The ironic thing about it is that Click Frenzy had so studiously and emphatically warned retailers of the extra traffic and were so insistent that they should ensure their sites could handle it. All of this then became moot, because they themselves didn’t live up to their own advice.
In any case there are already a billion articles out there detailing the #ClickFail debacle, but what I’m here to do is analyse their response via social media. Just for a teaser, let me tell you it more than qualified as a social media fail (and you know how much I hate the use of that term!).
Click Frenzy were active on Facebook and Twitter, both with decent enough communities for the time they had been in market (not very long) and the fact they are Australian-specific. Up until the event they were doing an OK job in communicating with their communities. But what happened when they launched? They managed to satisfy pretty much all tenets of a quintessential SOCIAL MEDIA CATASTROPHE.
What is the worst possible thing a company can do when they are faced with a social media crisis? Say nothing at all. Click Frenzy were tweeting up a storm right up until the event went live at 7pm AEST, and then as soon as hell broke loose (right at launch), there was silence. Absolutely nothing. FOR TWO HOURS. They didn’t acknowledge the thousands of angry tweets from customers trying to get on. They didn’t even tweet a blanket statement. They said absolutely nothing. And do you think that helped their situation? No. It made everyone even angrier. Then when they came back online some hours later, they decided to act as if nothing had happened and instead started spamming their followers with deals and links directly to the retailers’ sites.
When faced with a tirade of negative tweets in the face of any crisis you should never ignore your customers. Be apologetic, give them updates, tell them that you are trying to fix things. Do not, ever, remain silent, and then return later to spam your community as if nothing ever happened. Own up to your problems and apologise. Click Frenzy would have been wise to speak to their customers during those first hours.
2. Denial / Provocation
This was I think the worst thing of all their social media failings – they actually posted a Facebook post that denied the site was down. It was poorly constructed, grammatically incorrect, defensive and provocative to the tens of thousands of people who were trying to get onto the site they had promised would not go down. It was astounding. Sadly it’s no longer up (see point 3 below), and I failed to take a screenshot at the time, but I did manage to copy and paste it into a doc, so I have the exact word-for-word post:
Click Frenzy is far from embarrassed! Whilst some individuals are having issues battling against thousands of other shoppers, thousands (yes, THOUSANDS) are online, and successfully nabbing bargains with Click Frenzy… And clearly that couldn’t happen if the site was done. Just like the Boxing Day Sales… Crowds are to be expected. For those experiencing difficulty, we recommend you check back in later when the storm has calmed enough for you to break through on your end. You’ve got 24-hours so keep at it!
Click Frenzy is far from embarrassed? Well jesus. If I’d have taken millions of dollars from Aussie retailers to provide a portal for them to promote special offers and then promised the whole of Australia they would be able to access it at a specific time – only to so catastrophically fail on both counts – I’d probably be a little embarrassed. But it was clearly successful because thousands (yes, THOUSANDS) of people were online on the site! Clearly despite the fact over 500,000 people registered AND they had it on all major news stations and papers and radio stations that day it made sense for them to build a site that catered not for hundreds of thousands, not for tens of thousands, but just for thousands of people. Are you kidding me? Of course the site is obviously not ‘done’ (down) because it’s much more likely tens of thousands of people are lying that they can’t get on it. You know, just for fun. Because people like to lie about that sort of stuff.
And just another note – for those who did check back in later when the ‘storm calmed’, well you probably noticed you still couldn’t access any of the deals. But I’m sure there was still no embarrassment from Click Frenzy’s end.
Never, ever, ever provoke your customers who are frustrated because you’re not doing something you should be. Don’t deny it or try to make out that it’s their fault. Even if you’re right (which in this case clearly was NOT the case) you are not going to make any friends by acting smug or superior. There’s little wonder Click Frenzy deleted this post, after the 1,000+ angry comments it received in minutes after it was posted.
3. Deletion of posts.
Another classic social media no-no. Don’t delete your posts because you didn’t think them through to begin with. Own up to what you’ve said, or you’ll make people even angrier. Instead of deleting this post they should have just posted another one apologising and owning up to their problems. Trying to act as if something was never said after thousands of people have seen it is not going to help your case. Even better than not getting to the situation of having to consider deleting a post – think things through before you post them. Adhere to point 2. Above and maybe choose not to post something that is smug, superior and essentially completely in denial.
The activity of Click Frenzy (or lack thereof at times) was disrespectful to its audience. They ignored them when they shouldn’t, and spammed them with offers when they should have been explaining themselves. They denied that tens of thousands of people were having issues with the site when they should have been apologising for it. They still have yet to apologise to either their customers or the retailers (who ultimately are their real customers). When you show such obvious disrespect for your followers, fans, customers and communities, you reap what you sow my friends. And you’re sowing disaster.
As I’ve mentioned, Click Frenzy decided the best course of action was to spam their communities with links to retailers’ sites. Both on Facebook and Twitter all of a sudden there were copious offer posts coming through. On Twitter this may be somewhat forgiven as the channel is much more fast-paced, but it’s hardly an appropriate channel to do so on Facebook. All of a sudden Facebook users who had joined the Click Frenzy page were faced with a newsfeed full of Click Frenzy offers. This all may have been forgiven if Click Frenzy had have properly apologised for the debacle they had instigated first. Buuuuut they didn’t.
6. Huge negative sentiment.
The traditional definition of a social media fail has always been campaigns or events that get a huge negative backlash through social media channels. I have argued against this definition in the past, because I believe that whilst social media may be a chosen conduit for dissatisfaction, the true judgement on whether a company ‘fails’ on social media is how they handle the crisis. However for those who adhere to the traditional viewpoint, the Click Frenzy event more than qualified. A search for #clickfrenzy on Twitter revealed about 100 angry and negative tweets per minute at its peak. The new hashtag #ClickFail quickly became popular. I’ve included a selection of tweets below, plus a pretty funny YouTube video that was put together in the first hours (impressive).
They certainly copped a huge negative backlash on both Twitter and Faceboook, but at the end of the day it’s the way they (mis)handled this crisis on social media that truly led to the calamitous social media disaster it turned out to be. If you’re a business wondering what to do in the event of a social media crisis, take Click Frenzy’s response and do exactly the opposite.