Friday, 10 May 2013

A mistake is always forgivable, rarely excusable and always unacceptable…

At this point, I feel it’s important to admit that no one has really got this social media thing perfected yet. Not even the guy with the Social Media Slips and Stumbles blog. Sure, it's easy to point out where some people are doing it wrong, but the ability to point out how to do it right proves much harder.

Companies like Steam Whistle and Oreo do a great job of spreading the gospel and nurturing their online communities. And individuals like Ricky Gervais and Stephen Colbert adapt the medium for their individual needs whilst providing a source of near-constant entertainment to their legions of followers.

But even these savvy social media sages still slip-up and make mistakes from time to time.

Social media mistakes are okay. The may garner strong negative reactions at first, but the digital world moves fast and some new sinner is always taking centre stage.

As with anything in life, slip-ups are inevitable. The online cocktail party that is the social media world is not exempt from this universal truth.

Consequently, whether you are a well-known organization, massive corporation or lowly individual, there are a couple of specific things you can do if ever you find yourself caught in a cringe-worthy social media hailstorm.

Like in traditional public relations crises, the first step towards absolution of your sins is to acknowledge that you made a mistake in the first place. Repent.

From there, you should take any applicable combination of the following steps (offered by a Californian Public Relations agency Tellem Grody):

1. Pay the toll                                            2. Cement your base                   3. Simmer down

4. Admit the stumble                                5. Line up                                    6. Take off your jacket

7. Shift                                                       8. Laugh tactfully                        9. Keep talking

With a bit skill, a bit of luck and bit of creative candor, you should be back in the good graces of the Social Media Gods in no time. 

Friday, 12 April 2013


We’ve all come across instances like this, where we digitally stumble upon two people engaged in blood-boiling disputes on Facebook or Twitter. We picture them off in a dark room somewhere, teeth clenched, sweat beading their brow, furiously hammering away on their keyboards… and we chuckle to ourselves.

Oftentimes it is people whom we don’t know, digital friends-of-friends; we click on their profile picture(s), judge them silently and immediately, laugh at their oxymoronic opinion, and move on.

You see, there is a nefariously fine line between participating/engaging in a controversial exchange on social media and making yourself look like a complete and utter clown… for the entire social network to see.

On one hand it’s a good thing, because we are talking about important societal issues – even if it means hearing opinions from people who we think are bat-sh*t crazy.

On the other hand, perhaps these conversations are better suited for the real world.

This brings me to today’s lesson; the ability to see someone say something wrong (or counter to your opinion) and not say something about it is an important social media skill to have –whether you’re a company or an individual.

Think about it this way: you would look like a complete and utter buffoon if you were attending a cocktail party and you suddenly broke out into a loud argument over some hot-button topic, say gun control or abortion.

The jazz band would get irritated, you’d get stern looks from your superiors, and in perhaps the cruelest twist of fortune of all: the waiter delivering champagne would likely ignore you for the remainder of the night.

Facebook is like the cocktail party of the social media world. You show up, catch up, mingle a bit, hear some interesting stuff, share some interesting stuff, then repeat.

My point is that if you’re looking for an argument, there are spheres of the digital realm better suited to debates –maybe try an MMA forum or something. 

There is a time a place for everything… I think the Bible – the original Facebook – mentioned something about that. And it couldn’t be more relevant in this digital situation.

As English politician and man of wisdom Edward Gibbon once said, "I never make the mistake of arguing with people for whose opinions I have no respect."

Friday, 5 April 2013

Caps Lock

2 Inches...

Yes, 2 inches is all it takes to save you from looking like a complete and utter buffoon on your social network.

It is the amount of space it takes to reach from the centre of your keyboard and hit the caps lock button,  thus drastically reducing the annoyance level of whatever you are trying to say.

You’ll also notice that the excessive caps lock user mistake also goes hand in hand with another equally frustrating social media trend: the “way to many exclamation points in a row” trend.

Here’s an idea!!!! How about we all put on our big boy (or girl) pants and use our words to describe whatever we feel is important enough to merit a post… or at the very least, find a suitable emoticon.

Let’s look at a couple of examples shall we?

This one here isn’t even in a language I can understand, and it still bothers me. I hope she is saying, “MY CAPSLOCK BUTTON IS BROKEN!!!! I HAVE NO CHOICE BUT TO WRITE IN THIS UNCOUTH TONE!!!!”

Here, we have a shining example of excessive caps lock use, combined with the “way too many exclamation points” trend. A caps-locky post, linking to a caps-locky advertisment, that in turn, has spurred on a slew of caps-locky comments... though, I think the first one was meant ironically. Full marks awarded to that chap. 

Okay, that’s all for today folks. Remember everyone, 2 inches, that’s all it takes...

Friday, 22 March 2013

What we can learn from The Onion about the fickle nature of social media…

One day they love you, the next day they leave (ahem), unfollow you.

Seeing as this is a blog about social media slip-ups, it is impossible not to talk about The Oscars Onion debacle on Twitter this week. Everyone else is talking about it, so why not add more rubber to the tire fire?

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, read this and get yourself caught up...

Yes, despite what Miley Cyrus believes, “can’t” is in fact not the real "C" word.

Firstly, I’d like to point out what most media outlets have neglected to mention: The Onion’s twitter account has not only retained its over 4.5 million followers but has added some 6,000 new followers since the fiasco was first picked up by major media outlets.

I’m not going to play the sage and say whether The Onion has acted right or wrong throughout the course of this perceived public relations crisis. However, I will make a couple of surface level observations, in the form of a Top 2 List (just because Top “__” Lists seem to the be all the rage these days):

1. We all must learn to exercise prudence in the real-time world that is social media.
Everyone’s had a status update or tweet (sometimes done in haste, sometimes crafted in a state of drunken rapture) that they would love to take back.

There must be some vetting process in any good social media strategy –whether it be in regards to professional or personal accounts. I don’t want to hear about every single initiative that a company is involved with, nor do I want to know that you are going to the gym and your max weight is 400 lbs, bro.

2. Sometimes controversy in the world of social media is not necessarily a bad thing.
Since Sunday, overall mentions of The Onion have spiked according to social media analyzers NetBase, suggesting that new communications methods are blurring the line between notoriety and fame in the digital realm.

Perhaps we are harkening back to a time where any publicity is good publicity, or as Oscar Wilde famously said, “The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.”

Maybe we should ask young Quvenzhané for her opinion on that.