—Laura Toledo, Account & Marketing Manager at Tenrec

I grew up in a very small town (graduated with less than 40 kids). Our class’s makeup consisted of maybe 15 girls and all the rest boys. We had a love-hate relationship (mostly hate). When the girls decided we wanted something, the boys would always out-vote us just to get a reaction. This happened with class trips, prom, class president…you name it, they’d oppose our votes just to get a rise out of us.

Here I thought that kind of thing only happens in high school, but a recent marketing campaign reminded me otherwise. (You were wrong, Mom, the real world turned out to be very similar to high school.)

Rapper Pitbull decided to launch a contest: whichever Walmart location got the most “likes” on Facebook would be the location he’d visit on his tour. And guess what location received the most …Kodiak, Alaska.  (“Not that there’s anything wrong with that.”) A writer for The Boston Phoenix, David Thorpe, encouraged his readers to like the “most remote Walmart possible” (CBS News article). And really, who can resist being in on a prank? (It must be the “kid” in us all.)

Sometimes we might think that the internet allows each and every one of us (with an internet connection) to have and form our own opinions. Obviously, this isn’t always the case. The internet can sometimes act as a catalyst, propelling people to make decisions just because someone told us to do it. Innocuous as this example is, it still goes to show the best of intentions can backfire on the internet, thanks to one guy who’s got a lot of “followers” (and thinks he’s funny).

If you’re starting a social campaign that gives your audience the chance to vote for something, make sure that your least favorite option is still one that will work. A well-thought-out campaign should be approached in terms of the worst-case scenario, just in case.

What other campaigns have gone a bit awry due to someone’s lobbying or leading example? McDonald’s #MeettheFarmers campaign comes to mind…