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4 and a ½ Social Media Disasters

#Awkward #LearningOpportunities

“If it doesn’t spread, it’s dead” – Henry Jenkins

Social media platforms provide excellent opportunities for having your voice heard and your content shared. If you are anything like me the prospect of sharing content to millions of people with the expectation of them replying, sharing, remixing induces a sense of anxiety. At the same time though sharing content that goes viral can be an exhilarating and even re-sharing an already popular tweet (that just, like, speaks to you as a person) can make you feel a part of something bigger. So, the prospect of social media may be intimidating but there are plentiful opportunities out there.

Take solace then, and some tips, from the fact that your social media activities are unlikely to be as awkward – or downright disastrous – as the stories feature here.

1 – Trends #WhyIStayed

DiGiorno Pizza is now infamous in social media marketing circles for this disastrous tweet. In only 21 characters they undermined an incredibly important social issue. As such they have subsequently damaged their brand and have even called into question the necessity of corporate social media profiles that adopt their own online identities.

Of course, using hashtags is a great way of signposting your content and connecting it within a content ecosystem. For marketing hashtags can be used simply to signpost a brand and they can be used to encourage conversation. Of course, connecting to trending stories is very valuable as they feature prominently on social media platforms. There are even tools available to help with this -> allows you to search for currently trending hashtags, and related hashtags for a given topic.

#InATweet: Connecting with trending hashtags is great for exposure. Hashtags can add to your online identity. Just do your research first!

2 – Participation #myNYPD

When the New York Police Department realised they had an identity issue with their community, the took to Twitter. The #MyNYPD was intended as a photo competition for people to share photos of themselves with police officers. People took this as an opportunity to speak out against the heavy-handed, and often racially driven, practices of the NYPD subverting the #myNYPD campaign, and giving it a life beyond the NYPD’s initial intentions.

Encouraging participation is a great way of creating conversation between yourself on your audience, but also amongst the audience itself. In the NYPD’s case, they demonstrated a fundamental lack of understanding of their intended audience. Ironically, they were very successful in encouraging participation and conversation, but completely counter to their original intentions.

#InATweet: Encouraging participation works. But understand your audience – prepare for it to take a life of its own.

3 – Scheduling #TescoHorseMeat

On January 15 2013 the Food Standards Agency published evidence that they had found horse meat in Tesco’s value burgers. Tesco’s public relations team’s desperately tried to mediate the fallout, even going so far as to buy full-page advertisements in national newspapers to apologise. Two days after the new story broke and Tesco’s PR was in full-swing and the horsemeat story was prominent in the news, the Tesco customer service published a tweet seemingly making light of the whole situation (“hit the HAY”).

In this instance, allegedly, the tweet was scheduled to be posted long before the controversy broke. Of course this isn’t the only example, nor the most serious. Following a shooting spree in Colorado, US that left 12 dead, the National Rifle Association tweeted “Good morning, shooters. Happy Friday! Weekend plans?”. Scheduling tweets is an incredible useful practice. Indeed, for any serious social media aficionado or professional – scheduling tweets is a necessity. There are of course tools available to help you – TweetDeck allows to you schedule tweets, connect multiple accounts, and view multiple timelines.

#InATweet: TweetDeck makes tweeting easier. It is a bad idea to Tweet and forget. Interaction is important. It’s a worse idea to schedule a Tweet and forget.

4 – Consistency #iPhone>Blackberry

Blackberry could be featured twice in this article – for the same reason. First their Creative Directory, and brand ambassador, Alicia Keys was caught Tweeting from an iPhone before then claiming she was hacked. Embarrassing for sure, but understandable. What is incomprehensible however is they were then caught 2 years later in similiar circumstances. This time though, their OFFICIAL Twitter account was caught out.

This example is perhaps quite subtle because it is not the content or tone or personality that was inconsistent – but the device used to Tweet itself. It does demonstrate the importance of consistency online. Minor differences – and of course major differences –  in personality, tone, content etc. etc. will be picked up on. The larger the audience, the faster this will happen. With this example, and all others in this post, it demonstrates that anything posted online is likely to stay online.

#InATweet: Digital media lacks tangibility but has permanence. Be considered and consistent in your profiles, e-personalities, and posts.

5 – Identity #ONEPROUDDAD

Social media is a ‘messy’ platform. On Twitter,  I try curate a personable, but socially-driven academic with interests in digital-education. Funnily, my father and I follow each other….

Social media is a great platform for connecting and sharing content. Whether you are using it professionally or personally (or somewhere in between like myself) there a conscious and unconscious curation of our online identities. Regardless of whether you are representing yourself (such as an amateur photographer, eager student, or professional journalist) or representing a company – there is a necessity of considering your online identity. In this example however, we can take one key lesson that is apparant in every other example of ‘social media disasters’. Regardless of how well we curate this identity or how effectively we can influence connections we are still subject to the whims and will of everybody we are connected to. Perhaps most importantly – as demonstrated by Boaty McBoatFace, Mr SplashyPants, and this example – this lack of control can be okay.

#InATweet: Consider, define  your online identity – sassy, professional, witty, silly, serious, socially-conscious – and align your posts, tone, images, etc. to this.


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