Posts Tagged ‘social media’
Back in April, Jimmy Fallon had an amusing segment on The Tonight Show that showed just how quickly fans could turn on a brand—and how quickly they could be won back. When I watched the segment again this week, I realized that it had parallels to our online interactions.
The segment starred Robinson Cano, a baseball star who had played with the New York Yankees for nine seasons until signing a $240 million contract with the Seattle Mariners late last year.
To diehard Yankees fans, Cano is a traitor who abandoned his team in order to chase a giant paycheck. So when he came back to New York as a Mariner to play against his former team, the locals weren’t exactly happy to see him.
Fallon’s team set up a life-size cardboard box featuring Cano’s image and encouraged Yankees fans to boo him—but the fans didn’t expect the real-life Cano to pop out of the box. Trust me: this is hilarious.
Why did that happen? Why did so many fans boo Cano until he popped out of that box, at which point they wanted to shake his hand and hug him? And more to the point: Doesn’t the same thing happen on social media all the time?
I’ve often found that when people use harsh language to criticize something I’ve written, their tone softens when I engage with them. It’s easy to boo a cardboard box (to post a rant onto my Twitter feed or the comments section of my blog), but it’s harder to boo an actual person (me, when I offer a polite response to their criticism).
There are certainly times when this doesn’t work and a response will simply inflame your critics. But in The Media Training Bible, I mentioned a survey that contained some rather surprising results:
“According to a 2011 Harris Interactive study, unhappy customers quickly forgave companies that responded to them. Thirty-three percent of customers who left a negative review on a shopping website ended up posting a positive review after receiving a response, while another 34 percent deleted the original review.”
If you rarely interact with your critics, try it. You don’t have to engage people who are vulgar, who have engaged in name calling, or are clearly online trolls—but if the person seems reasonable enough, you might be happily surprised by your ability to turn them around as quickly as Robinson Cano did his naysayers.
Tags: blogging, Jimmy Fallon, New York Yankees, Robinson Cano, social media, sports, The Tonight Show
Posted in Social Media | 8 Comments »
On NBC’s New Year’s Eve with Carson Daly, a comedian named Natasha Leggero cracked a joke that offended many people.
The joke was about the social media uproar caused last month when SpaghettiOs tweeted a promotional photo of a noodle celebrating Pearl Harbor Day.
Here’s the video, and her joke:
“I mean it sucks that the only survivors of Pearl Harbor are being mocked by the only food they can still chew.”
Many people whose opinions I respect thought that Leggero and/or NBC should apologize. I disagree.
No, her joke wasn’t tasteful. I wouldn’t make it, and I probably wouldn’t attend a comedy show if I knew the comic was going to use Pearl Harbor as fodder. But I don’t believe that Leggero’s intent was to diminish the tragedy of Pearl Harbor or its survivors (I would have been offended if it had been). Rather, her quip played to me like nothing more than a silly “old people gum their food” joke.
Still, many people voiced their displeasure on Facebook and Twitter, and Leggero decided to respond with a defiant statement. I thought she got the tone just right.
“I wish I could apologize, but do you really want another insincere apology that you know is just an attempt at damage control and not a real admission of guilt? Let me just try instead to be honest.
I’m not sorry. I don’t think the amazing courage of American veterans and specifically those who survived Pearl Harbor is in any way diminished by a comedian making a joke about dentures on television. Do we really believe that the people who fought and defended our freedom against Nazis and the Axis powers will find a joke about Spaghetti O’s too much to bear?”
“My own father lost his hearing in the Vietnam War so the issue is pretty close to me too. So rather than apologize, let me offer another perspective.
On the one hand you have me, making a joke about how old people can’t chew tough foods very well.
On the other hand you have Veterans who receive inadequate care upon their return from active duty, rampant sexual assault against female soldiers, staggering rates of suicide, traumatic brain injury, PTSD, substance abuse and depression among soldiers and political gridlock that prevents these problems from getting solved quickly.
Where do you think your outrage and action would be better served?”
At the end of her statement, she encouraged her fans to donate to the Disabled American Veterans.
The reason I agree with Leggero’s refusal to apologize is simple.
She’s a comedian.
Leggero is not a corporate brand. Comedians are granted far more license than the typical corporate spokesperson, and thank goodness for that.
Could you imagine how dull comedy would become if it was sanitized to the point that no one was offended, ever? Would we really want to live in a world in which Mort Sahl, Lenny Bruce, George Carlin, Richard Pryor, Dennis Miller and Chris Rock were never allowed to appear on television for fear that they might [gasp] say something unpopular?
There are, of course, limits to how far comics can go. Michael Richards (Seinfeld’s Kramer) went way over the line in a disturbing rant full of racial epithets. And Tracy Morgan went too far when he suggested that he would stab his son to death if he was gay.
As for NBC, I think we have to ask ourselves whether it’s reasonable to expect NBC (or any other network) to apologize for every spontaneous, unpopular joke made on its air by an unscripted comedian. Sometimes, that answer may be yes. But I’m not sure negative social media activity is the only metric to use in determining whether an apology should be offered. In some cases, a combination of evaluating the perceived offense and monitoring the social media activity may be enough.
This “crisis” passed quickly. And as happens with many of today’s social media “crises,” NBC’s has already become a distant memory.
What do you think? Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below.
Photo via Flickr Creative Commons user 92YTribeca
Tags: apologies, Carson Daly, comedy, Natasha Leggero, NBC, social media
Posted in Social Media | 4 Comments »
During the holiday break, you probably saw the social media uproar sparked by a tweet sent by Justine Sacco, the communications chief for IAC, the company that owns Match.com, OKCupid, and The Daily Beast.
Don’t worry. That story’s already been covered to death, and I don’t intend to re-litigate it here. But in case you missed it, here’s the tweet she sent:
Unfortunately for Sacco, she sent the tweet immediately before boarding an 11-hour flight from London to South Africa—and since the plane didn’t have WiFi, she had no idea what an uproar she had caused until she landed. While in the air, thousands of people had retweeted her tweet, followed the progress of her flight, and created a custom hashtag, #HasJustineLandedYet.
One question has been nagging me for the past couple of weeks. Within minutes of landing, Sacco deleted her Twitter account. Was she right to do so?
At first, I thought she had made a mistake by doing so:
As I pointed out in my tweet, Twitter could have been a great platform on which to apologize, engage humbly with a few critics, and share links to any longer statements she might have released.
But as I reflected on it, I wondered whether she was right to have deleted her account for the following five reasons (regardless of whether she made such a calculation in advance):
1. Her Twitter Network Was No Longer Hers
Sacco only had a few hundred Twitter followers before this incident but thousands afterward. If she had remained on Twitter, her tweets would have been seen by more people intrigued by the scandal than her core network. Twitter wasn’t a major platform for Sacco’s personal or professional brand. Even if it had been, big personalities such as John Mayer have deleted their accounts without much consequence. Larger brands, however, are a different story.
2. She Starved The Story of Oxygen
The story seemed to lose its energy as soon as she deleted her account. Her account’s erasure seemed to provide a sense of closure to the incident; without being able to include @JustineSacco in tweets, Twitter’s zest for the story appeared to deflate.
3. Tweeters Got Blood, Moved On
While Sacco was still in the air, her company released a statement suggesting she might lose her job over the incident (she did). Once she paid that price, there was less need for further communication from Sacco over Twitter. Instead, she released an apology through a South African newspaper, which was promptly shared on the social network and served to further exhaust the story.
4. The Holidays Were Coming
This incident occurred on December 20 and was almost certain to die a quick death before Christmas Eve. Even if she had been criticized for deleting her Twitter account, that criticism was unlikely to have lasted more than three more days.
5. She Got Sympathy
Overall, Sacco’s tweets were badly damaging. But many Twitter users, bloggers, and journalists raised concern about Twitter’s “vigilante justice,” believing that Sacco had been unfairly convicted without a trial or the ability to defend herself.
My Final Take
Deleting her account didn’t erase her words. Many news stories captured her earlier, incendiary tweets, which will remain “on the record” forever. But the raw record of her Twitter account is no longer “live” and thus cannot be combed through by curiosity seekers.
I usually advise against deleting social media accounts in crisis. But Sacco’s case feels different—and she probably made the right call.
Tags: crisis communications, Justine Sacco, PR, social media, Twitter
Posted in Social Media | 3 Comments »
To acknowledge December 7th yesterday—Pearl Harbor Day here in the United States—the food brand SpaghettiOs sent out the following tweet:
2,402 Americans were killed on December 7, 1941 when Japanese fighters launched a surprise attack on American military ships based in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The attack directly led to the United States entering World War II, in which an additional 418,000 Americans died.
So how, exactly, does a smiling SpaghettiOs noodle holding a flag honor that sacrifice? It doesn’t, obviously, and the more than 5,000 people who retweeted the ridiculous tweet torched the brand for its casual commercialization of a national tragedy.
Worse, they didn’t learn from the mistakes of others. SpaghettiOs was the latest in a long line of brands using moments of commemoration to promote their brand. In August, for example, The Golf Channel “honored” Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech by asking golfers to submit their golf dreams.
And in April, immediately following the Boston Marathon bombing that killed three people and maimed many others—the food website Epicurious sent these tweets:
In the cases above, I don’t believe that the brands intentionally sent those tweets to manufacture a controversy. But there’s no denying that these social media hubbubs resulted in massive brand recognition, spread by angry tweeters who shared the brands’ names.
I’m no longer convinced that these instances hurt all brands in the long-term; there’s at least some evidence that they don’t. It’s entirely possible that SpaghettiOs, now back in the public consciousness, will experience a boost in sales. If that’s the case, we can expect to see more brands using this tactic intentionally.
Clothing designer Kenneth Cole appears to be doing so already. He sent these tweets in 2011 about Egypt and 2013 about Syria, respectively:
Despite receiving intense criticism for his crassness, he bragged to Details Magazine in October that:
“If you look at lists of the biggest Twitter gaffes ever, we’re always one through five. But our stock went up that day, our e-commerce business was better, the business at every one of our stores improved, and I picked up 3,000 new followers on Twitter. So on what criteria is this a gaffe?”
Assuming you don’t want your brand to be associated with those tactics, here are five tips that will help you honor a national holiday, day of commemoration, or news event the right way:
1. Don’t Be Clever
When honoring a holiday on which people died or fought for equal rights, don’t be clever or stretch to make the moment fit your brand (e.g. connecting scones with dead marathoners). If you’re so inclined, make a straightforward and genuine statement honoring the people affected or lost (“72 years ago today, thousands of Americans lost their lives in Pearl Harbor. We honor their sacrifice.”). Obviously, that statement shouldn’t be accompanied by an animated noodle.
2. Don’t Be Promotional
Commemorative days don’t serve as moments to sell your brands. The only exception is if you’ve done something to help. For example, it would be okay to say, “In honor of those who died in Pearl Harbor, we have made a donation of $25,000 to the World War II National Memorial Fund.”
3. For Major News Events, Simpler Is Better
On and after September 11, 2001, most commercial websites understandably felt the need to acknowledge the tragedy. The websites that did it best made it completely about the event. As a positive example, here’s what Amazon.com had on its homepage on September 14, 2001:
4. Ask Whether You Should Say Anything At All
There seems to be an increasing tendency of unrelated brands to comment at every potential moment. A straightforward statement is generally an okay idea, but ask yourself whether you should be saying anything at all. Few brands are expected to comment on Pearl Harbor Day, for example. Ask yourself when your brand should be commenting on those dates—or news events—at all.
5. Train Your Staff
Print this post. Have a formal staff training. Have an informal discussion. However you choose to train your staff, make sure you train your staff! My belief is that most of these mistakes aren’t made by evil, mean, or otherwise horrible people. They’re made, most of the time, by oblivious but well-meaning and untrained people.
Tags: Epicurious, Kenneth Cole, social media, SpaghettiOs, The Golf Channel
Posted in Social Media | 7 Comments »
I occasionally unfollow people on Twitter or Facebook.
There are a variety of reasons I unfollow people. Among them: they post too often; they never post; their posts aren’t relevant to me; they annoy me; they share views I find offensive.
Once in a while, I receive a note from someone asking me why I unfollowed them. Their message always feels invasive to me, and I don’t feel like I owe them an explanation. Their message also feels a little pathetic, akin to a host of a casual cocktail party begging a guest who’s decided to leave early to reconsider and stay a little longer.
In some cases, their message is communicated in a different way, through an automated, passive-aggressive service, that tweets out something like this:
That desperate-sounding message alone is enough to make me want to stop following someone.
Here’s my view: social media networks should allow people to come and go as they please. If someone wants to follow me, I hope they enjoy my content and remain connected with me. But if they don’t, they’re welcome to leave at any time, without explanation. I might allow a rare exception for cases in which I’ve had a long-term Twitter or Facebook friendship with someone and gotten to know them over time.
Of course, there is value in services that track how many people are following and unfollowing you. For example, it’s a good idea to determine trends that explain which types of tweets are retaining your followers and which ones are repelling them.
But leave the whiny “Why did you stop following me?” tweets behind. I promise nobody likes them.
Would you please, please, please follow me on Twitter? I’m begging. (I’m kidding, of course.) If you’d like to pop in and out of my network as you please, I’m at @MrMediaTraining.
Tags: Facebook, social media, Twitter
Posted in Social Media | Please Comment »
Penn State’s student newspaper, The Daily Collegian, ran a front-page story on Friday about a student who sent a racially incendiary tweet.
Ashley Lytle, a 19-year-old student, tweeted:
That’s obviously an inappropriate and offensive tweet—one that I have no intent of defending. She deserves to be criticized for sending it.
But instead of focusing on my usual angle of media training, I’d rather focus on the sticky question of journalistic responsibility.
When writing about a 19-year-old college student who’s not a public figure (she’s not a student leader or high-profile college athlete), there must be some degree of proportionality. I have to imagine that many other Penn State students—there are more than 39,000 undergraduates at University Park—have also sent offensive tweets or said similarly offensive things. Is the new standard for the Collegian to shame everyone who does on its front page? And if not, is their cherry picking—which will mark Ms. Lytle as a racist for much of her college life—appropriate?
In this case, the front page placement seems irresponsible given the thinness of the news story. (You can read the full article here, which doesn’t say much other than: Student sends bad tweet. Some people mad.) If there were mass protests on campus from offended students, I’d understand the front-page coverage. Same if the administration was considering kicking her out of the school or if the article served as more of an in-depth look at the ill effects of social media on campus.
None of that was the case here.
Yes, this story may have been worthy of mention in the paper. But it would have been more responsible to cover the story on an inside page, which would have served the dual purpose of covering the story while giving it proportional coverage.
Regardless, this story, like so many others, underscores the need for social media training. Some colleges and universities are offering that to students—particularly for student-athletes—but in a world in which a single tweet can destroy a person’s reputation, it makes sense to arm every student with the information they need to make smarter choices. (Chris Syme’s excellent book “Practice Safe Social” is a great place to start.)
For her part, Ms. Lytle has apologized.
UPDATE: September 8, 2013, 2:45 P.M.
I received an email from Brittany Horn, the Editor-in-Chief of The Daily Collegian, explaining her paper’s decision to cover this story. Due to the length of her response, I’ve posted it, in its entirely, to the comments section below. I encourage you to read her letter in full. You’ll also find my response to her email beneath her comment.
A grateful hat tip to @ProfNichols.
Tags: Ashley Lytle, journalism, media analysis, Penn State, social media, The Daily Collegian, Twitter
Posted in Social Media | 35 Comments »
Today is the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, which is being marked by Presidents Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, and Jimmy Carter (among others) at the Lincoln Memorial today.
In many communities across the United States, today is a day to reflect on Dr. King’s legacy, discuss the state of race relations, and learn from his heroic example.
Unless, of course, you’re the Golf Channel, which decided to use Dr. King’s legacy to get its 218,000 Twitter followers to talk about….golf.
That tweet certainly isn’t going to help golf’s reputation as a sport for rich white guys.
It minimizes the significance of today’s anniversary and represents the lowest form of newsjacking. Worse, their hashtag, #DreamDay, is being used by people who want to discuss the Martin Luther King anniversary, not be subjected to a meme created by an overambitious sports marketer.
Twitter responded to the Golf Channel’s tweet quickly, with some people suggesting that the Golf Channel take a mulligan for this tweet. (If only it were that easy for them.)
The Golf Channel quickly deleted its tweet, but hasn’t acknowledged or apologized for it as of this writing.
Brands, this really is pretty easy. Don’t tweet about scones after the Boston Marathon bombing, don’t sell your new spring clothing line with an international uprising as your hook, and don’t do tasteless marketing on important historical anniversaries.
Update 1: August 28, 2013, 2:40 P.M.
The Golf Channel apologized for its earlier tweet.
I’d like to hear more about what went wrong and the procedures the Golf Channel will put in place to make sure they don’t commit another social media gaffe. Also, a “we’re sorry” wouldn’t hurt.
Update 2: August 28, 2013, 5:00 P.M.
I guess Herr Foods didn’t get the memo.
Don’t miss a thing! Click here to instantly join our mailing list and receive our 21 most essential media training tips.
Tags: crisis communications, Martin Luther King, social media, The Golf Channel, Twitter
Posted in Crisis Communications | 2 Comments »
How do you get people to behave on social media? That is the million-dollar question these days. But, celebrities and politicians aren’t the only ones getting in trouble. Unfortunately, social media can make anyone a celebrity—and not in a good way.
A pastor in St. Louis found that out the hard way when she wrote a note to a waitress at a local Applebee’s on her receipt disputing an automatic tip deduction. An employee took a picture of the receipt and posted it on Reddit, a popular social media forum. The angry pastor complained to the restaurant and got the employee fired—a perfect storm of trouble that garnered national attention and ruined the pastor’s reputation.
Popular athletes like Johnny Manziel, last year’s Heisman trophy winner, have created such havoc on social media that college coaches everywhere are jumping on the “No Twitter” bandwagon.
Prohibition does not teach responsibility—education does. In my new e-book, Practice Safe Social, I address the subject of how to educate people on issues of privacy, reputation, and brand building as they relate to the responsible use of social media. Telling people they can’t use social media only teaches them you don’t think they are responsible.
Remember the adage, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime”? When you teach people how to use social media responsibly, you give them a valuable life skill. Give them the right tools and information and you’ll be amazed at how much loyalty they can build with social media. And that loyalty is a deep well that allows you to draw water when you make a mistake and keep on going.
When fans and customers trust you, they give you the benefit of the doubt. If you’re a follower of the annual Reputation Quotient survey from Harris Interactive, you know the direct relationship between reputation and bottom line. Figuring out how to get people to buy into the concept of education is the trick. As the actor said to the director, “what’s my motivation?”
We’ve all heard these guidelines for posting. Some are more effective than others, depending on the age of the audience:
Don’t post anything you wouldn’t want your mother to see. Well, truth be told, some mothers (and fathers) don’t have any more sense than a teenager. This may not drive the point home. Some moms might think it’s pretty cool to see scantily clad pictures of their daughters online. Have you ever seen Toddlers and Tiaras? Scary moms.
Don’t post anything you wouldn’t want your grandmother to see. Your grandmother probably loves you to death, and is very longsuffering about your mistakes. Your picture playing beer pong might not be her thing, but she’ll smile and hug you anyway. She doesn’t care what you post on social media. It may motivate some, but Grandma is the one person on earth that will forgive anything, no matter what.
Don’t post anything you wouldn’t want a future employer to see. The pocketbook is often a good motivator, especially for young adults. Unless your future employer might be a strip club manager or Deadspin, you probably should keep this one in mind. Here’s the visual I like to draw: imagine every job interview you’re going to in the future requires you to bring only one thing – a portfolio of everything you’ve posted online in your entire life. You and your future employer will sit down and look at it together. Now, what do you want them to see? Over 90% of employers search the social media of prospective employees. And, according to a Reppler survey, 69 percent of them have rejected a candidate because of what they found.
No matter what motivation you try and give people to use social media responsibly, the best motivation will always be showing them a direct personal benefit. Bad screenshots may scare some, but bottom line issues are what make most people change in the long run. Show them the money!
Know Your Danger Zones
Know thyself. Do you have a quick temper? Are you passionate about your hometown, sports team, or a political cause? Do you have emotional triggers like people getting away with cheating, corrupt politicians, mean people, or bullying? Make decisions ahead of time on how to respond to posts on social media that push your buttons.
Try making a social media contract with yourself. Have a friend or colleague witness it.
Here are some things you may want to add to your contract:
- 1. Leave the phone at home when you go out or leave it locked in your car out of sight.
- 2. Save messages as drafts before you send. Force yourself to put your device down for at least a minute, then go back and read it again.
- 3. Don’t read the negative and you won’t speak the negative – stay away from sites like Gawker, Bleacher Report, Deadspin, TMZ , and do not register a profile on any of these sites. If you’re going to read controversial internet material, don’t set up an account to do so, or leave a comment on the site. You never know who is watching—or searching.
- 4. Don’t post when you’re drinking or when you’re emotional – ecstatic or angry.
Take time to practice the behaviors that keep you on the right track:
- 1. Practice 140 character responses to emotional situations. Better yet, practice silence.
- 2. Study resources that will help you learn how to deal with the pressure like The Media Training Bible by Brad Phillips and my new e-book Practice Safe Social.
- 3. Unplug at night. Vow to stay off social media during a time period when you may be tired or need to do other tasks. Don’t live life at the mercy of a device.
- 4. Turn off your notifications and only check your social media at prescribed times.
- 5. Don’t defer to checking social media when you are bored. Find another activity to occupy your time.
Using social media responsibly is a skill everyone needs. Do you know how to practice safe social?
Chris Syme is principal at CKSyme Media Group, a consulting firm in Bozeman, Montana. Her agency specializes in reputation and crisis communication services including online crisis monitoring and social media training.
“Practice Safe Social” is available from Amazon here.
Tags: Chris Syme, guest posts, Practice Safe Social, social media
Posted in Social Media | Please Comment »