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Lessons Learnt Online During 2014

2014 has been a busy season for those using the internet to market their business, with many significant successes and failures.

This article will look at some of the highlights and failures of the year and discuss what you can learn from them to support your marketing in 2015 and beyond.


Follow Local Regulations: Product Placement Videos Require Recognition

The ASA’s ruling in the UK about vloggers and advertising rules is going to have a huge impact on how businesses now start to use other forms of media. Oreo were penalised for breaching regulations when they paid video bloggers (vloggers) for participating in an online competition.

Even though these videos were marked as supported by Oreo in their descriptions or sometimes in the video – the ASA felt they were misleading the audience. Their argument was that the videos were an advert and nothing else. Therefore, while there was some notification of thanks, the videos should have been marked as an advert before any footage was shown.

This raises some interesting questions about subliminal product placement videos, blog articles and social media updates that are also advertising third party products, or even products from the brand itself. Do these need to be marked as well? It is important that affiliates have an affiliate disclaimer on their site, but not one that is on every piece of content they produce. Where would this ruling draw the line?

Whatever the answer, the UK ruling is likely to have ramifications across the world for brands and businesses who will need to consider how they pay others to advertise their products.


Be Relevant: Cellecta Insulation Needed Quick Lesson In Hashtag-jacking

Being discovered on social media can sometimes require the use of a trending hashtag for promotional work. Make sure the update is relevant and still part of the original social media story and you may find yourself inundated with new followers and leads.

Unfortunately though, it is often when newsjacking goes wrong, that News Outlets and bloggers start to spread your name about more. This is what happened to Cellecta Insulation in May this year. During this period there was a specific twitter-fest occurring called #GiveGregTheHoliday.

The event began when an employee at Arcadia accidently sent a holiday request to everyone in the company. In the past, these mistakes would often be a laugh in the office and then everything would settle down. However this time Twitter took over. Other brands, including econsultancy took to the internet in support of Greg and his request for a holiday. Then another organisation, Trek America, decided to give Greg a free holiday. This seemed to be appropriate.

But one organisation decided to take the trend too far and suffered for it. Thinking they could grab some free publicity in newsjacking, Cellecta Insulation decided to tweet about their products – which had nothing to do with going on holiday.

The Cellecta tweet is so out of context and seems like a desperate plea for attention that many of those participating in the Twitter-fest voiced their objections in blog posts. Many pointed out that unlike with other posts that were offering free gifts to Greg, this one was merely pointing out products he could buy.

Therefore, always remember to keep your newsjacking campaigns relevant and aligned to what others are saying.


Getting Willing Participants: MasterCard Gets Rewarded For Demands

MasterCard truly got a shock after its’ PR company took their promotion too far with journalists at the Brit Awards. MasterCard was the sponsor of the event and hoped that social media updates about the evening could drive traffic to their site. What happened was probably one of the worst mistakes of 2014.

The PR company had taken the unusual step of demanding that journalists at the event would use social media from publication and personal accounts to live-tweet the event, use the hashtag #PricelessSurprises and link to several specific pre-event marketing materials. If they weren’t willing to do this, then the journalists wouldn’t get any press accreditation.

Not surprisingly this did not work as planned. Tim Walker from the Telegraph and a leaked email via Press Gazette announced to the world what was going on and the hashtag became a negative promotion for MasterCard. One of the heckling messages from the online community included: “Good press coverage is hard to bribe. For everything else there’s Mastercard #PricelessSurprises”

The message to take from this incidence is to co-operate with your strategic partners and to realise that you cannot dictate the path of social reaction.


Be Transparent – Microsoft On LinkedIn

Many believe that there are no better marketing platforms than Twitter, Facebook, Google+ or YouTube. LinkedIn, the business marketing platform, is often missed but should be one of the main priorities for businesses.

Some businesses have reported that LinkedIn can provide more leads than Twitter. Yet many profiles on the social media networking site are not optimised. Ensure that you are using the best practices to gain attention on the network. This includes using the right images, supporting documents and use the right keywords.

One of the best examples for LinkedIn marketing is the Microsoft page. They include a host of content including behind the scenes, question and answer posts, blogs and thought leadership. All of which is aimed at generating interest in the organisation while also being transparent.



2014 was a great year for digital marketing as it took a hold of consumer imaginations and grew yet again in consumption of spending. Throughout the year, there have been several successes and failures that have taught the rest of the online community some important lessons.

During 2015, these lessons will need to be implemented through digital marketing campaigns to ensure success. So when you are running your next internet marketing campaign ensure that you are following the local regulations, being relevant with your marketing, cooperating with strategic marketing partners and have a presence on all of the major social media networks.

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