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.

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Let's all stamp out posts of poor length…

This week we’re going to discuss length... and no not that length, get your mind out of the gutter. I’m talking about post-length. 

Post-length can sometimes be like the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears; some posts seem two long, some posts seem too short and some posts are juuust riight.

Check out this Facebook update:

Apart from some harebrained proposition about re-posting this status to create a “positive intention avalanche,” this post is far too long. The only avalanche I experienced when coming across it on my phone was an avalanche of bother.

But too short can also be equally frustrating at times. A tweet or Facebook update that is one word or an acronym, can similarly annoy people:

...Tbh? Really? To be honest, I think it’s time to sever my social media ties with you, because as social guru Jefferson Lebowski once put it, “the dude does not abide.” 

That being said, if your one word post is this:

...the one word is completely appropriate, because it is in the running for best word in the history of the English language.

The fact of the matter is, apart from Twitter, there are no hard and fast rules for post-length on Facebook and other social media. Too long or too short? The matter will always be up for debate.

At the very least, we all must be aware of the length of our posts. No one would read this blog if each post was 1,500 words long. Nor would they read it if each post was 15 words. Come to think of it, no one reads it anyway. 

That’s all folks!

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Respect Your Network. Don't Be An Overposter.

Okay, this week we’re going to discuss overposting – both from companies/organizations and individuals.

It’s a sure-fire way to find yourself removed from newsfeeds, “unfollow”ed on Twitter or perhaps the cruelest of all the social media fates: unfriended on Facebook.

Though frustrating while on a laptop or a desktop, overposting is particularly unwelcome when cruising your desired social media outlet on the small screen of your mobile device.

There is nothing worse than having your morning tinker on your smart-phone (perhaps from the comfort of your own bed, someone else’s bed, breakfast nook or porcelain throne) and seeing 80% of your newsfeed filled with a myriad of inspirational pictures from one single user.

You know the type of pictures I’m talking about:

I get it. You’ve found a quote to live by, and I am very happy for you… but six of them in the row? Posted two minutes apart, rapid-fire, over the course of an hour? 

Now let's check out another example of rapid-posting, as seen on through a Facebook timeline. This fellow's timeline undoubtedly induces seizures on a regular basis. Don't get me wrong, I love a good Ecard... but not every seven minutes.


And it’s not just individuals who are guilty of overposting. For some reason, some companies think that if they ignore their social media accounts for an extended period of time, they can make up for it in one spurt of overposting. Unfortunately, five posts in the one day is not equivalent to one post a day, over the course of five days.

A good social media strategy requires constant attention, nurturing and consistent engagement. If you’ve been ignoring your Facebook or Twitter account for a week, don’t think that you can make up for it in one afternoon of overposting.

But don’t take my word for it: a new study has found that the top two reasons users cite for unfriending or unliking on Facebook are “overposting” and “overcrowded walls.”

Check out more on this subject, along with some snazzy graphs, here.

In the end, I am a simple man, trying to make a simple point: Don’t post just for the sake of posting. The last thing you want to be is the “Johnny (or Janey) Overpost” of your social network.

Friday, 15 February 2013

It's a social media website, not a dating website...

A wise man (with a gnarly blog) once said, “The best sign of a healthy relationship is no sign of it on Facebook.”

Despite the comment receiving upwards of 65 “likes” on Facebook, it also initiated fierce backlash from a couple of users who were particularly fond of airing their relationship-related laundry on said social network.

Admittedly, the comment may have exaggerated the issue of relationships on social media to a hilarious and clever extreme, but the general point is still an accurate one.

If you do find yourself entangled in the throws of a budding romance, exercise discretion with updates and profile picture choices. If the first dozen or so pictures one sees when viewing your profile look like this:

  Followed by comments like this:

…Then it may be time to think about toning it down a tad. This young lady appears to have done nothing else but kiss her boyfriend (from a variety of angles) throughout the latter course of 2012.

At the end of the day, we must remember: It’s a social media profile –serving as a digital representation of our physical lives– and it shouldn’t look like a drunken sexcapade through the photo booth at the mall.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

A quick note before we get the ball rolling...

I’ve been on Facebook, or "The Book" as I prefer to call it (I know, slightly biblical), since a time when if you mentioned it in polite conversation, people would look at you like you were from the moon.

Nowadays, Facebook, Twitter and a menagerie of other social media have become the norm, all while rapidly changing the way we communicate, make decisions and live our lives.

Along with these changes come a whole bevy of new lapses in judgement, senselessness, and flat out folly. I’ll be using examples from my own social networks, as well as others I come across while out scouring the net, as jump-off points for discussion on this blog.

No user profile will be safe from scrutiny, no company too large to belittle. But don’t worry, it will all be done in the service of the greater good.

So hold on, pay attention and please, please, please think before you post… because the concurrent beauty and drawback of social media is: you never know who might be watching.