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December 11th, 2009

2009 Digital De-Brief: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly



By Holly Hacker, Digital Strategist

Let’s keep this end of the year recap short, sweet, and simple, just the way I like it. Looking back over the span of 2009, here are my picks for what was good, what was bad, and what was just plain ugly in the world of digital.

The Good: Facebook helps companies connect with their customers. This past year will likely be coined the “Year of Social Media,” with the rise of Twitter, the explosion of Facebook, and the word “blog” becoming more of a household name. But of all the innovations, inventions, and popular trends, I think that Facebook did the most to make social media a reality for most businesses.

Initially, companies were relegated to using only uninteresting “public profiles” that allowed them to provide updates, but severely limited how much outreach and discussion they could have with the larger Facebook audience. In March 2009, Facebook changed that by allowing companies to develop “fan pages” where the entire Facebook community could interact with companies and brands. Now, companies can have as much fun as the rest of us—updating our status, uploading photos, and keeping our news feeds fresh. 

The Bad: KFC launches ideal holistic campaign, but runs out of chicken?!? You may remember this past spring when KFC ran what seemed to be a smart product-launch campaign to get people to try their new Kentucky Grilled Chicken by giving meals away for free. KFC had a great media strategy with online downloadable coupons, TV endorsement by Oprah herself, TV commercials, and more, but wasn’t prepared for the success of the promotion. KFC ran out of chicken after 4 million coupons were redeemed and ended up turning customers away, and, in some cases, closing their stores. There is nothing worse than being unprepared for the demand that your campaign may generate; although in this case, at least we got this pop culture gem out of the deal.

The Ugly: Bing crashes. Microsoft has embarked on a massive challenge to give Google a serious run for their money as the top search engine. Starting with a marketing budget of over $170 million for just 2009, Bing came out swinging. But in a sadly not-so-surprising development for Microsoft, their flagship search product crashed for over 30 minutes, prompting everyone to rhetorically ask, “Could you even imagine Google crashing?” While this outage certainly generated quite a bit of social media conversation, I doubt this is the way they wanted to get it.   

And now for something fun, check out Mashable.com’s handy-dandy guide to the best YouTube videos EVER.