Free can be expensive

The facts – The set up

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T.G.I Friday’s launched in september 2009 a Facebook campaign aimed to attract consumers to its fan page, focused on the “Woody” role, an around-30 years old guy still living at his parents’ house.

The promise

It was simple. Or, at least, it looked like. T.G.I. Friday’s promised to give a free burger to everyone who fanned the page in case they would arrive to 500.000 by september 30.

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The disaster

Complete. Obviously T.G.I. Friday’s didn’t expect what it was coming to them. The fan page obtained more than 500.000 fans during the stimated period and the brand couldn’t afford keeping its promise.

Of course clients went mad. T.G.I. Friday’s response? They increased the promo request to 1 million fans.

This time, far from receiving more fans they achieved a wave of critics, quickly loosing everything won before.

The lessons

1- Do not make promises you cannot keep (this one can also be useful outside marketing plans).

2- Be humble: we all make mistakes and, when it comes to social media, apologise is usually the best solution.

3- As much as possible try to forecast different scenarios and results, and get ready for all of them.

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