Social media for business is a delicate beast, as we all know. I’ve written it before, but it bears repeating. While succeeding in the social sphere calls for risks, it also calls for careful analysis before you take your risk.
Along with requiring risk, and being one itself, the value that social media for business presents is its ability to take messages cross-platform. Something funny, insightful, and interesting on Twitter can easily be transferred to Facebook, Pinterest, Youtube, or any number of places.
While that idea is true for positive elements, it’s also very true for negative ones. In this article, I’ll be looking at just how something positive and negative can catch social media fire, even if it doesn’t start there. The “win” we’ll be discussing comes from English feminine hygiene product maker Bodyform, and our “fail” comes from Presidential candidate Mitt Romney. As before, I’ll use my “fail whale” and “winner winner chicken dinner” grading system to put my final stamp on just how good or bad these were.
Binders Full of Women
During the second Presidential candidate debate between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama, we got an important lesson in social media for business, even if it was through politics. In response to a question about jobs and women, Romney said he and his staff understood jobs and women because during his tenure as governor of Massachusetts he had his staff bring him options of qualified women to hire. Romney then added that he had “binders full of women.”
On its face, it’s an innocent comment. But with millions of people live-tweeting and Facebooking about the second debate (just as they had the first), the remark took off like wildfire. Not only did it spill into the campaign trail, but it also exploded into the social media scene.
At Jezebel.com, a Gawker media property aimed at women, Katie Baker wrote about how Romney’s comment quickly inspired various Amazon reviews for binders. To someone who’s not familiar with the meme, this is confusing, but to someone who is up to date with current events, and perhaps read reviews that mention Romney specifically, this could be very damaging to the candidate’s brand.
In addition to Amazon reviews, the comment spawned a Tumblr (a sort of micro-blog geared towards short updates and photographs) and multiple Facebook pages, many with several thousands of Likes already.
This is all very damaging to the brand of the candidate. It’s an unfortunate off-the-cuff remark, and it illustrates how social media can be used to damage or bolster a brand, even when the remark, image, or other artifact in question doesn’t begin on social media.
Key Point: Think about how you use social media for your business, but also about how things you do and say outside of social media can be used there. Are you providing good service? Are you interacting with your customers in all physical spaces in a professional and appropriate manner? Remember that anything you say or do can be transferred from an ephemeral and physical space and moved to the internet, where it can be shared and publicized, causing lasting detriment to your brand.
Grade: 4/5 Fail Whales
Maxipads Lied to Us
Like we all know, not just those of us involved in the social media for business sphere, many consumers use Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube as an avenue to express displeasure about companies or services.
A man named Richard Neill took to Facebook to unleash a humorous and slightly tongue-in-cheek rant about how the companies (Bodyform, specifically) behind commercials depicting women engaging in various athletic and seemingly joy-inducing activities during their periods had lied to us.
Richard goes on to say that he felt jealous of women on their periods because they got to experience such joyous activities during that time. He said he felt lied to when he realized that women, in fact, did not enjoy their period at all. Sensing obvious humor, Bodyform decided to take to a different platform in order to respond to Richard in what’s become possibly one of the best replies to a Facebook rant, ever.
Bodyform created a fictional CEO to respond to the Facebook post, which addressed Richard’s concerns directly. As this DailyMail post mentions, Bodyform spotted a golden PR opportunity. They carefully considered their possible reactions, and knew that a humorous rant deserved an in-kind response.
In addition to an ironic apology, the video used well-crafted humor to engage its target audience (women, obviously) and help increase brand identification by asserting that the company simply had to lie because men “can’t handle the truth.”
Key Point: One social medium can be used in concert with another; in this case, a YouTube video perfectly complements a Facebook post. It’s important to think about which medium works best for the message you want to convey. Quick one-liner? Maybe Twitter. Informational post? Maybe a blog or Facebook post. But when you need the full gamut of engagement and sound/video/staging, then YouTube is the place to go. This exemplifies the tremendous upside to taking risks in the social sphere. When using social media for business, always consider your target audience, how you can connect with it, and what emotions you can use to get your point across.
Grade: 5/5 Winner Winner Chicken Dinners
Final Thought:Social media for business is a tough arena, but there are lessons to be learned everywhere you look. It’s important to experiment with social, but do your research first. Off-the-cuff remarks can be beneficial, but more often than not, they’ll hurt. Do your brand a favor and give all your remarks careful consideration.
In your careful consideration, don’t forget to think about what medium might be right for your message. Whether you’re responding, sharing, posting, or musing away at simple nothings, different media can benefit your message in different ways.
What message/media combination have you found to be best? What are some great social media wins & fails you’ve seen this week? Keep the conversation going below!
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