When Viral Media goes bad

This is a story similar to the one about the ‘mail glitter to your enemies’ story in class.

As some of you know, I have a sports drink business.  It is a very niche product for people who cut weight. When I was first starting out, I was constantly offering free samples out to people. About once a week I would post something on facebook (I have a business page and business ‘person’ account you can see below) about sending us your address and we’d send you a free sample.  I got maybe one or two people each time.

One day, I started receiving hundreds of free sample requests, they just kept coming in and wouldn’t stop.  Needless to say, I panicked a little and tried to figure out why.  Apparently there are a few coupon type websites and blogs that scour the internet looking for free promotions and post about them.  A few had found my post. About 99% of these people were middle aged women – the exact opposite of my target market, who only wanted it because it was free.  I spent an entire weekend stuffing envelopes to try to fill the requests and made it though about half of them.  Eventually I gave up and posted that as a small business only a couple months old, we couldn’t fill all of the requests and that I was sorry. I also made the juvenile mistake of saying how unfortunate it was that people were only requesting samples because it was being offered for free from a coupon website – needless to say that didn’t go over too well with a lot of those people.

Long story short, you never know who will end up seeing what you post online.

In the years that followed however, not a single one of them ever ordered.  However until then, about 75% of the people who received a free sample ended up becoming customers.

Ross  MacBaisey






One thought on “When Viral Media goes bad

  1. Interesting! Do you think there was a way that could have been avoided, or do you think that’s the risk you take with a promotion like that? It’s also a good lesson about apologies and how to make them, as you note. Thanks for sharing!

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