The Retail Dangers Of Social Media Going Viral Strike Again

Written by Evan Schuman
March 15th, 2011

Retailers looking to leverage social media are quickly learning that it’s a powerful tool—and it’s sometimes far too powerful. That’s a lesson Groupon learned in January, when it tried launching a new service in Japan. For those who need another reminder, a 16-year-old girl in Australia is only too happy to oblige. Seems that the girl posted an invite to her 16th birthday party on Facebook (with her address) and didn’t properly set the privacy settings.

It went viral, and almost 200,000 people said they would show up at her house. The party was canceled (which is a shame, given that the family apparently didn’t calculate the potential eBay revenue from selling all of those gifts), but it’s a critical reminder for retail. If a promotion goes viral, what seemed like a great idea can quickly morph into a disaster. Think Sorcerer’s Apprentice: social media is the magic spell and your impressively unhappy customers are the water. And those angry customers—facing hand-scribbled out of stock signs, huge lines and terrible customer service— will likely not forget. They won’t be bringing gifts, either.


One Comment | Read The Retail Dangers Of Social Media Going Viral Strike Again

  1. Chris Says:

    That second link is a dupe of the first, but the party invite thing is a bit more complex.

    “The girl had originally created her own birthday invitation on Facebook but shut it down after it got out of hand with more than 2000 people registered to attend.

    However within a day, an impostor created the invitation again and it spread to more than 200,000 Facebook users.”

    The alleged impostor has reportedly been arrested.


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