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Lessons from the Montreal Canadiens' Twitter Disaster

If you live in North America (particularly in Canada), you probably heard about the Twitter faux pas the Montreal Canadiens dealt with this week. To celebrate reaching one million Twitter followers, the Canadiens' PR team decided to create a campaign with auto-responders. Followers would receive an automated response including videos and messages from the team.

The problem is, there was no effective safe-guards in place - so ALL followers received messages. Internet trolls had a field day with this, so racist, homophobic, and overall offensive Twitter handles were all treated with an auto-response welcoming them to the family! Yikes!

This brings up a very important point that many companies fail to grasp. Internet marketing campaigns need just as much careful planning and foresight as offline marketing, perhaps even more so. Due to the nature of the Internet, detailed filters and moderators need to be put in place to stop people from abusing the campaign and marring a brand's reputation.

Social media marketing is so important these days, much more than with other forms of "getting the word out there". It's a way of developing a strong relationship with your followers or fans, ensuring that they are not only satisfied with your customer service, but also likely to be repeat customers or clients. This can be a daunting task, and it shouldn't be taken lightly.

The Montreal Canadiens' should have hired a team to moderate all responses, including a much more powerful filter to tag offensive language. In addition, they should have planned for the worst case scenario...trolls taking over the campaign being a likely scenario. The players featured in the video should also be issued an apology, considering they look foolish in the public eye thanks to this disastrous campaign.

This error in judgement is a lesson to all of us who use social media. Do your homework, and plan your marketing strategy with care. Just because something is built for the web, does not mean it can be up and running in a day without much foresight.

When in doubt, hire a professional. We're here to help.

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