Social Media Fails Whitepaper


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Infamous social #fails - What your business can learn from celebrity mistakes.

• Self-centered
• Lack of Preparation
• Technology-enabled
• Lack of Vetting
• Lack of Engagement
• Alcohol-related
• “Hacked”
• Political/Religious/5th Amendment

Matt Keough, Senior Account Executive
Rebecca Roebuck, Social Media Manager

Published in: Business
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Social Media Fails Whitepaper

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  2. 2. Infa mo u s S o ci al # F a ils : Wha t Yo u r Bu si n e s s C a n L e a r n fr o m Ce le b ri t y M i st ake s Matt Keough, Senior Account Executive Rebecca Roebuck, Social Media Manager Ta ble o f Co n t en t s #Fail Types—pg 3 The Self-centered #Fail—pg 3, 4 The Lack of Preparation #Fail—pg 4 The Technology-Enabled #Fail—pg 4 The Lack of Vetting #Fail—pg 5 The Lack of Engagement #Fail—pgs 5, 6 The Alcohol-Related #Fail—pg 6 The Hacked #Fail and “Hacked” #Fail—pg 6 The Political/Religious/ 5th Amendment #Fail—pg 7 What to do When You Find Yourself on the Wrong Side of a #Fail—pgs 7, 8 About the Author—pg 82
  3. 3. “Wise men learn from other men’s mistakes, fools by their own.” – H.G. Wells “You make mistakes, but I don’t have any regrets. I’m the kind of person who takes responsibility for it and deals with it. I learn from everything I do. I work very hard, I have so many things going on in my life. Get to know me and see who I am.” - Kim Kardashian H o w Not t o #F ai l an d W h a t’s N e x t W h e n Yo u D o? As growing numbers of companies jump into social media marketing, there are greater opportunities to make missteps. Preparation and, to a certain degree, common sense can prevent embarrassing errors from reaching the public. However, we must recognize that all of us are imperfect and we can’t possibly meet our own high standards 100% of the time. In the case of failure, prior planning will prevent our response to an error from multiplying and becoming larger than the original mistake. We’ve looked at different flavors of social media #fails and have organized them into the following categories. #Fail Types • Self-centered • Lack of Preparation • Technology-enabled • Lack of Vetting • Lack of Engagement • Alcohol-related • “Hacked” • Political/Religious/5th Amendment In this guide, we will discuss examples that illustrate these types of errors. Luckily, celebrities often exhibit all of these behaviors, so we can easily draw lessons from their mistakes. We’ll also look at some non-celebrity behaviors because they are too perfectly imperfect to ignore. The Self-centered #Fail Our poster boy for this type of social media #fail is Michael “The Situation” Sorrentino of Jersey Shore fame. His Twitter behavior shows a nearly 100% stream of Tweets or Retweets about how awesomely awesome it must be to be “The Situation.” Mr. Sorrentino also exhibits self-centeredness by his follower-to-following imbalance. He has more than 1,130,000 followers and only follows about 400. For the moment, set aside the frightening fact that more than a million people seem to care about what he says. Sorrentino’s low number of follows suggests that he’s more concerned about his own feed than anyone else’s. Celebrities may be able to get away with this. You and your brand most likely cannot. A celebrity who makes it a point to be self-centered in social media is the comedian Louis C.K. He is followed by over 700,000 people and follows exactly zero. This is intentional on his part—he only uses Twitter to3
  4. 4. promote his appearances and, at times, ask for help. Again, he is relying on his fans to be so loyal that this satisfies them. We don’t recommend this for just about anybody who isn’t famous for being irascible. Tip: You are not as interesting as you may think. The Lack of Preparation #Fail This example comes from Klout Perks. Klout Perks is a way the social influence grader Klout leverages its users. Companies can make offers to users based on their influence, reach or topical authority. They are counting on scarcity appeal, not to mention a certain snob appeal. Users are thrilled to find they are important enough to be marketed to. Recently the men’s grooming brand AXE® let a Klout Perk offer go public before it had been reviewed by enough eyes. The offer made no sense, but at least 29 of this user’s friends were eligible! Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good, but at least proofread your offers before they are public. The Technology-Enabled #Fail Technology undoubtedly makes our lives easier. It makes us more efficient, it makes us more productive. It also allows us to make mistakes more quickly than ever! This flavor of #fail is driven by having access to too many social media accounts in one log-in. Software services such as HootSuite, Co-Tweet, TweetDeck and others allow teams to collaborate. Instead of logging in and out of several accounts, one username and password can be used to select the correct account from which to publish. Or to select the wrong account by accident. @CryslerAutos “I find it ironic that Detroit is known as the #motorcity and yet no one here knows how to f----ing drive” This quote actually contained the “mother of all curse words.” It was later explained that Chrysler had an agency handling some of their social media channels and an employee of that agency thought he was Tweeting from his personal account. TIP: If you can’t access more than one account at a time, then you can’t post to more than one account. For strategically important clients (and what client isn’t?), consider having a log-in exclusively dedicated to their account. In an agency environment, that may seem inefficient. However, it is less efficient to have to apologize for, explain, and recover from a very public failure.4
  5. 5. The Lack of Vetting #Fail The Zac Brown Band is a very popular band whose music has a strong “Americana” appeal. ZBB decided to team up with Carharrt to have a Labor Day promotion on “Facebook” Zac Brown Band and Carharrt are taking back Labor Day! Join us in honoring everyday heroes by learning about the people behind the scenes at ZBB and voting for your favorite story. Unfortunately, many of the band’s fans were aware that Carharrt outsources the production of their garments to Mexico and China. They responded with a flood of comments that took ZBB to task. Tip: A little more investigation of your partners will prevent such phrases as “absolutely shameful” from being associated with your brand. The Lack of Engagement #Fail Peyton Hillis had a breakout year with the Cleveland Browns in 2010. He quickly became a fan favorite for his punishing method of running through or leaping over defenders. His humble, hardworking style matched Clevelander’s self-image. On the other hand, one thing Cleveland sports fans react poorly to is a perceived slight or sense of aloofness. EA Sports had a fan-voted contest to determine which player would appear on the cover of the popular Madden 11 video game, and Hillis won the honor. Social media channels contributed to the building momentum. At the time, Hillis was active on Twitter. He was a good example of putting a real human face to a sports celebrity. His Tweets were largely in reaction to praise and compliments, thanking fans. The 2011 season, however, got off to a rocky start. A contract dispute amplified a series of games Hillis missed due to illness and injury. A local charity had a Halloween party in which Hillis was scheduled to appear. When he did not make an appearance, a local organizer and media personality took to Twitter to criticize Hillis. By this point, Payton Hillis had, in effect, dropped out of social media. He had not Tweeted since October 8th.5
  6. 6. Even though he responded via other media that there was a miscommunication, to his followers it seemed as though he was not engaged at all. Lesson: Respond to critics in the medium in which the accusations are made, whenever possible. Those who are looking for your side of the story are more likely to see it. The Alcohol-Related #Fail Alcohol has been blamed for many, many #fails in real life, so it is no surprise that it contributes to social media faux pas. Tweets about alcohol abuse might be considered bad taste in about any context. So when one such tweet came from the official account for the @RedCross, it seemed particularly out of place. Turns out an intern managed to combine an alcohol-related #fail with a technology #fail and Tweeted about “#gettngslizzerd,” which apparently is a euphemism for being inebriated. Tip: Friends don’t let friends drink and Tweet (or Facebook, or YouTube. . .). The Hacked #Fail and “Hacked” #Fail There are actually two types of hacked #fails. The first is when someone’s account is hacked by another user, and the second is when someone claims their account was hacked as an attempt to cover up their own mistake. The New York Yankee’s pitcher CC Sabathia is just one celebrity who recently fell victim to a Twitter account hack. In this instance, Sabathia was entering into free agency after the World Series concluded. His official account posted a message that the Cardinals (who were playing in the World Series, unlike the Yankees) were better than the Yankees. Nearly immediately he posted another message. He then re-signed with the Yankees. The second flavor of failure occurs when embarrassing content is posted from an official account and blamed on hackers when all other evidence suggests it was not. Such is the case of Anthony Weiner, who was a member of Congress when “Not Safe for Work” pictures were shared from his account. A series of Tweets attempted to make light of the “hack,” but subsequent events led to a media firestorm. Tip: To prevent an account from being hacked, use unique and difficult-to-guess passwords that you change frequently. Be careful about which applications which can access the API and post from your account.6
  7. 7. Tip 2: Don’t pretend to be hacked as an excuse. The Political/Religious/5Th Amendment #Fail The advice we’ve all received about not discussing sex, religion and politics in polite conversation is still valid and applies to conversations held in social media. For our final examples, we turn to Lindsay Lohan, who managed to delve into politics and religion while possi- bly violating the terms of her parole. Perhaps she had been reading up on international monetary theory in the prison library? People who are not religious might resent being commanded to pray. Those who are religious probably object to “God” appearing in lower case. Be very careful what you say when you have to invoke “obligations to the court.” Tip: While the Internet has a reputation for free-wheeling discussion, it is still best to avoid some topics. What to Do When You Find Yourself on the Wrong Side of a #Fail This software company wanted to increase their online visibility and generate more leads. In addition, they7
  8. 8. needed a single point of contact who could help them integrate and measure various online and offline marketing channels. Although everyone would like to avoid social media #fails altogether, you need to recognize that failure and missteps WILL HAPPEN. Once you realize this, make a crisis communication plan. Know who is authorized to respond and, just as importantly, who is not. Use reputation monitoring tools to get a good idea of what is being said and by whom. Here are some steps you should take when a #fail occurs. Assess the damage. Did anybody notice? Don’t apologize profusely and repeatedly if nobody noticed your slip-up in the first place. Don’t hide! You can’t stop people from talking, so you need to get your side of the story out there. Respond in the same medium used to start the conversation. Be as honest as the law allows. Honesty is the best policy, right? Yes, it is. Just be cognizant of any civil or criminal implications of being too forthcoming in your response. Be careful how you “lawyer up”—it can make you appear more culpable than you actually are. About the au t h o rs Matt Keoough Senior Account Executive, Fathom Matt has an extensive background in traditional and online marketing, with nearly fifteen years’ experience. He’s been with Fathom since 2005. Keough is known for his creative and sometimes amusing analogies and one time subjected the Internet to animated GIFs. He has watched too many hours of Browns football. Rebecca Roebuck Social Media Manager, Webbed Marketing Rebecca joined Webbed in April 2007. She received a BA from Kenyon College in Gambier, OH. At Kenyon, Rebecca became interested in Sociology and the different ways people find truth and meaning in modern society. She was especially interested in how people found meaning online through online communities, fan- dom and internet relationships. This lead to Rebecca’s personal and professional interest in social media and online networks. Rebecca has built and created social networks and communities for clients nationwide. She is excited to be involved in the new and rapidly growing world of social media. 8200 Sweet Valley Dr. Suite 100, Valley View, OH 44125 v 866.726.5968 v 216.369.2220 f 216.369.2227 fathomdelivers.com8