Why Kayak is up a creek without a Paddle in Social Media

Why Kayak is up a creek without a Paddle in Social Media

Yesterday I came across another Social Media campaign that displayed all the hallmarks of simply “not getting it”. This time the culprit is Kayak, the travel site. I’m slightly disappointed in Kayak, firstly because I am actually a regular user of their website, secondly because their TV commercials which started running late last year have actually been quite fun. I’m not sure if their Ad agency of record, Goodby, Silverstein & Partners are responsible for their Social Media campaign (I sincerely hope not).

Here is how the campaign works. They are offering free travel with some of their partners, this week happens to be Jet Blue, for you and up to 3 friends. All find and dandy so far. To enter you have to “connect” with them with Facebook – ok, so that means that they then have access to all my Facebook data, as does any other application I allow access. Then I have to “like” them – ok so they want “fans” for their Fan page and they want me to promote them via my wall and they want to be able to send me updates via Facebook, well I guess if they believe that will prompt me to action then that is their loss. Lastly, to actually enter the competition I am required to spam up to 20 of my friends from the competition Facebook application, Kayak will then select 3 of them to be invited to enter the competition (read spam).

So here are my issues with this competition:

  • Kayak, or their agency is still in the land of fake Social Media numbers, e.g. Lets get 100′s of “likes” on our Facebook page because that is a tangible number we can show to the C-Suite and prove that our promo is working
  • Social Media is all about getting people to spread the word for us. So if we get them to spam 20 of their “friends” on Facebook for us, the word will get out about our competition and more people will enter and we will build an awesome database of people we can email and message on Facebook with our latest offers
  • Facebook users are dumb enough to fall for this because after all they are the ones who are most likely to have very low privacy fears, after all they use the most public Social Media platform

This type of Social Media wasn’t working particularly well in 2008, it certainly isn’t working in 2010. Marketers stop being lazy. Stop expecting that word of mouth means spamming friends/networks with your message and start understanding what Word Of Mouth Marketing/Social Media really means. Which at the very least is compelling content.

What say you? Smart Marketing or Dumb Marketing?

About simonsalt

Author, Speaker, Writer, Photographer.

  • http://twitter.com/agardina @agardina

    I was really excited when I saw Kayak's promotion – and I was fine with the Facebook integration and forced "Like" (to me it was basically a Facebook application living on its own site.) However, I think Kayak (or their agency) missed an essential step in intending to make their application viral in nature. Instead of asking users to share the contest with their friends, they actually required it for entry.

    This has led to a number of issues on the Kayak page:
    1) Users asking each other to "add me" to invite each other to the app (could you imagine winning the contest based on this and having to fly with strangers?)
    2) Complaints about the site consistently going down. With this many calls to the Facebook API, it's no wonder the site is having issues

    The idea is well-conceived, but completely dumb in execution. As you say in the post, it requires users to spam their friends to even have a chance of entering, and I'd be interested to see how many users drop out at the "invite friends" stage of the process. That's where they lost me.

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