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Learning from Blackberry's Social Media Marketing Mistakes

I2m_blackberrysharestory Blackberry’s recent "Share Your Stories" campaign was inspiring for me, though probably not in the way they intended.  I actually love my Blackberry, but their entire "Share your Story" campaign just struck me as lacking in any of the lessons many other marketers have learned about Web 2.0 marketing and what works in social media.  The mistakes were so basic, that it led me to put together this post listing a few of them and some reactions for how they could have been avoided.  As more and more consumers continue to find ways to interact with brands that they are passionate about, the popularity of UGC campaigns will continue to rise.  Blackberry has such great potential to tap their own brand enthusiasts for efforts like this … but they fall short in this campaign in several ways.  Without further intro, here are some of the key mistakes and thoughts on how Blackberry might have been able to execute this campaign idea differently:

  1. Mistake #1 – Not offering a payoff or incentive for users:  Asking consumers to share their stories with you is one thing, but giving them an incentive beyond relying on their affinity for your brand is vital.  This is not about turning any campaign into a contest with winners and prizes.  The incentive could be as simple as guaranteeing that your story is shared with the most relevant people inside of Blackberry, or sending a personal email of thanks back.  The point is, an incentive answers the question of why … and without necessarily promising a financial reward as the answer.
  2. Mistake #2 – Forgetting about photos and video: It probably seems odd in this time of popularity for online video and YouTube for any User Generated Content campaign to launch without some ability for customers to include their photos and videos as part of their submissions.  Of course text based entry is easier – but for those customers who really love their Blackberries, why not let them submit images and video.  Particularly when one of the coolest features of the new Pearl is the integrated camera.
  3. Mistake #3 – Only promoting campaign through advertising:  The way I found the campaign was through a banner ad on (not exactly a hotbed for consumer generated content).  Though I am unsure about their other online advertising efforts, I am fairly certain they missed the most easy promotion available to them – a link from the website.  There are always a host of reasons why clients decide not to link to their promotions from their own homepage, and the only reason I have accepted in the past as reasonable is not wanting to give up the real estate on a ecommerce site to a promotional unit.  Blackberry has no such reason and should be promoting this campaign everywhere they can, especially on their own site.
  4. Mistake #4 – Avoiding publishing contributions real time: Again, legal and filtering reasons are probably behind Blackberry’s choice to not publish any stories immediately … however as a consumer being invited to share my story and not be able to read anyone others before doing so seems odd.  What is the plan for these stories they are getting anyway?  According to the T&Cs, the only thing that’s clear is that a consumer gives up all rights and control to any story they submit.  The only way they could make it any scarier for a consumer to participate is by asking for a full driver’s license number upfront like Bud.TV initially did when they first launched (which they have since corrected).

Does anyone have any other thoughts on something I might be missing here?  Would love to hear more from other folks who are launching (or considering launching) new User Generated Content campaigns using social media and struggling with some of these issues …

6 thoughts on “Learning from Blackberry's Social Media Marketing Mistakes”

  1. Very cool – thanks for sharing. That is a great argument for knowledge sharing within an organization and vetting subpar projects before they go out. Whoever worked on the MySpace page probably would have raised some of the points I did after looking at this Sharing Stories promotion for 30 seconds before it went out. It’s really not that far away from being something that could have been a successful way to engage consumers – maybe it just came out of the wrong group at Blackberry …

  2. FYI – they are advertising very heavily on Captivate – the elevator tv/monitor network. In Boston and NYC, I have seen it as almost every other ad on those screens. That positioning I think is working well – since if you are not reading the Captivate screen you are usually looking at your BB.

  3. Um, it might be working??

    The thing is you will have to wait and see.

    In a sort of related way I thought it would be very cool to set up a bluetooth hotspot in our local pub and let people post images from their cell phones that would then appear in real time on a monitor behind the bar.

    My friend who owns the pub would then have lots of happy people images to use.


    Once people have had a couple of beers it suprising what sort of images arrive.

    So you have to have someone filter them.

    And to a degree the spontanaity is lost.

    That was one small pub in South Africa, I hate to think what would happen across a country.

    So perhaps they are being wise but should have people sat waiting for the posts and vetting them and then releasing them after say an hour??

    Another way of looking at this is, its all a brand new way of doing things.

    They are perhaps not going to hit the nail on the head first time but at least they are trying. In the words of Tom Peters, Fail Forward Faster.

    For the record I own an N61 so I’m not biaest 😉

    Great weekend all


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Rohit is the author of 9 books on trends, the future of business, building a more human brand with storytelling and how to create a more diverse and inclusive world.


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