Social Media: Advertising that bites back & spits wine in your face too

Murphy-Goode did a not so goode job of managing their recent social media campaign for the Wine Country Lifestyle Correspondent.

That’s what I thought as I was putting my video together and observing the campaign, but I kept it to myself.

I read the fine print–the fine print on the site that said the Top 50 would be selected by an HR firm. The fine print didn’t say anything about the Top 50 being selected by the voters or that popularity had anything to do with it.

Knowing this, I still encouraged my friends and family to vote for me–as well as my network of friends and their friends and friends of friends at the college where I teach, through twitter and through facebook. And I didn’t make public my musings about what the upshot would be if a popular candidate wasn’t chosen.

Today’s SF Chronicle however, is not keeping quiet–and neither is top vote getter Martin Sargent. They published a story today about Sargent who used his social media savvy to attain many thousand more votes than anyone else. According to their story, Sargent got 6,000 votes.

Which surprised me because watching his video he didn’t impress me. But it wasn’t about the video–it was getting his network to vote for him.

His network came out for him. I remember seeing that he had over 6,000 votes when other top 10 vote getters like one of my favorites Hardy Wallace had under 2,000. I happened to be on-line at midnight 24 hours before they were to announce the Top 50. I was checking the number of votes people had when all of a sudden, the site changed and I saw the Top 50. I tweeted the results, facebooked and emailed a few of the Top 50 I knew or had gotten to know as well as congratulating VinTank’s Paul Mabray that 7 of the 8 candidates he was advising had made the cut.

Not that I’m an expert, but I’d already been done this “Dream Job” road as a candidate for the Island Caretaker on the Great Barrier Reef job and I’d seen how social media can bite the hand that feeds it.

I saw how Island Caretaker candidate Claire somehow ended up with many thousands of votes –and heard many say how easy it is to hack a vote counting system.

I watched first hand the uproar about Julia, the Top 50 candidate dubbed the “Porn Queen” who was dropped from the campaign. I’m still getting hits on my blog post about that!

I saw how supportive, how ugly, and how bizarre a ning can get over a competition.

And I also experienced the backlash when not only I wasn’t chosen but that the choices were skewed in a way that I and my supporters didn’t approve–and many other candidates complained about as well.  As much as they’re fans of the great barrier reef, my loyal friends were not too loyal anymore to the brand I’d been pushing. I know at least one candidate who decided to go to New Zealand instead of AUS when she didn’t make the Top 50.

With the Murphy-Goode job, some of my friends wondered why I was so gung-ho on what they dubbed a “goode” but not a great wine, w winery part pf a huge “family” of wineries, and a greenwashed winery at that. Wasn’t there a better winery for me to work for they asked?

A winery that’s part of a company that’s issuing lay-offs, including one to the guy who came up with the idea in the first place?

Here are some excerpts from the original SF Gate article:

Murphy-Goode, part of Jess Jackson’s Jackson Family Wines empire, devised a dream job – $60,000 and lodging over six months for one savvy social media wizard to make the Healdsburg winery the talk of the Internet.

Nearly 2,000 eager applicants emerged, and some 900 videos were posted online, a key part of the application process. Many took to their Facebook and MySpace pages, gushing about the chance to live the “Goode life” and pleading with fans to vote for them in a running tally of popularity on the winery’s Web site.

But when the winery unveiled its top 50 finalists in late June, top vote-getter Martin Sargent of San Francisco, a former TechTV host and Internet celebrity of sorts, was not on the list. The winery has removed the tallies, but Sargent’s reported 6,000 votes put him well ahead of the pack. His video application had received 34,090 YouTube views as of Thursday.

Of course, the winery had portrayed the “Goode Job” campaign as an extended job search, complete with interviews. But voting on its Web site complicated that picture, especially as social media thrives on popularity rankings. The purpose of the votes wasn’t explicitly stated, but candidates quickly lobbied their networks for a boost.

Digital marketing strategist Paul Mabray of VinTank in Napa, who is advising several finalists, said the winery fell short by trying to embrace social media without fully understanding its rules.

“Yeah, we screwed up,” said Caroline Shaw, senior vice president at Jackson Family Enterprises and a winery spokeswoman.

But it couldn’t have predicted the backlash that would ensue. Sargent posted word of his rejection to his many Twitter followers, news that quickly made it to Digg.com, the news-ranking site, then to the Twitter feed of Digg founder Kevin Rose. The same day, Rose wrote that Murphy-Goode “just screwed @martinsargent (even though he won most votes),” a missive that went to Rose’s more than 900,000 followers. The item shot to the top of Digg’s rankings, fueling tempers.

“You can’t ask the community to help you vet candidates and then just disregard what they said,” Rose said.

Aside from a podcast in which he called it “a real slap in the face,” Sargent has been gracious, publicly congratulating other applicants. But he does see irony in the results. He says he was told by a winery executive that he was “overqualified.”

The winery soon realized that what Shaw calls “the Martin Sargent snafu” was not going away. On June 28, it posted a lengthy Facebook reply, saying votes were less important than being a “deft, multi-faceted social media communicator,” arguing that the choices had been weighted to give “equal shots” to last-minute entrants and those “who may not have quite as intense a personal PR machine as others.”

By that point, seemingly nothing could stop the flood of irate tweets. “You’re on my list Murphy-Goode,” tech author Leo Laporte wrote to his 132,000 followers.

If this dust-up was the most visible ruffle in Murphy-Goode’s plans, some industry insiders were already grumbling about the timing of the “Goode Job” offer, which came in the wake of significant Jackson Family Wines layoffs in January. The company, which is private, does not disclose employee numbers. But additional layoffs came in June. Among those dismissed: Jim Kopp, a senior marketing director who had been instrumental in creating “Goode Job.”

2 thoughts on “Social Media: Advertising that bites back & spits wine in your face too

  1. Gwendolyn – great video again and thanks for supporting our team and we hope to see you in wine country soon.
    P

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