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What Your Company Can Learn From Internet Marketing Hoaxes

Published November 6th, 2017 by Servistree

Hoaxes on the internet are as common as rainy days in Seattle and can be perpetrated in a variety of ways. With that in mind, internet marketing hoaxes are quickly becoming the order of the day in terms on online fakery, and the most recent example is the Alex From Target hoax that hit the web last week. The hoax was not intentional but quickly took on a life of its own as a customer at a Target store in Texas took a picture of one of the cashiers – a teenager named Alex – who rang up her purchase. 

She then sent the photo to her friend who tweeted it to her 13,000 Twitter followers with the hashtag #AlexFromTarget, and it wasn’t long before that hashtag along with the accompanying photos went viral. While internet users around the world began learning that #AlexFromTarget was not some kind of clever, if mysterious, marketing campaign launched by the company as most had initially assumed, other marketers were learning some very valuable lessons from the hoax.

Social Media Personalities are a Powerful Marketing Force
On the surface this may seem like an overstatement of the obvious but if it actually were, then why haven’t we seen more real campaigns like this from real marketers? The phenomenon of what are called "Twitter Stars" – individuals who for whatever reason have substantial followings on the social media site – is very real and is worth consideration by companies looking to reach the masses in a new way. Conventional wisdom says that in order to effectively market your brand you need to have the endorsement power of an entertainment celebrity or a marquee professional athlete. The #AlexFromTarget hoax proves, however, that increased brand exposure may require the endorsement of an average "Joe" who just happens to have a substantial Twitter following.

Marketing Campaigns Are Often Unpredictable – Be Ready for the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
The general public is comprised of a fickle bunch. It is often extremely difficult to predict with any degree of accuracy just how it will react to this campaign or that. When something or someone goes viral it can be a dream come true or the consummate nightmare. As such, social media marketing campaigns must be approached with the utmost caution in order to ensure that the message has all the right ingredients to make for an effective exposure-increasing campaign.

So what are those ingredients? Well, no one quite knows for sure yet. That’s the lightning-in-a-bottle element that every company and marketer would love to figure out. Until they do, though, expect both good and bad reaction to any marketing campaign – intentional or not – that catches fire on the internet.

The #AlexFromTarget incident is just one example of an internet marketing hoax. It wasn’t the first and we all know it won’t be the last. With the decreasing attention span of the average internet user, marketing campaigns on Twitter and other social media need to have the same quick, visual brand message that sent #AlexFromTarget into the proverbial Twitter hall of fame. But unless things just fall into place the way they did for Target, finding the right ingredients for that message is easier said than done.

To learn more about social media marketing campaigns, contact us at 866-944-3244 or Keep up with the latest news and information on credit card processing and mobile payments along with other small business news by subscribing to our blog by clicking here.

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