Idiot-Proofing Social Media: No, Cher Isn’t Dead

09 Apr Idiot-Proofing Social Media: No, Cher Isn’t Dead

Yesterday morning, Britain’s Iron Lady passed away – whatever your feelings towards Margaret Thatcher’s policies, she made political history by serving as Britain’s only female prime minister, holding office for more than a decade.  As the news made the rounds, the #nowthatchersdead hashtag appeared on Twitter to announce her passing.  Only many people took this tag to mean the demise of another global icon: Cher.

The “Now That Cher’s Dead” debacle raises one clear point – never underestimate the stupidity of social media.  Don’t get me wrong, the social hivemind is typically a force for good and progress, with movements ranging from #ItGetsBetter to #IranElection.  But then, something woefully idiotic happens, like confusing a hashtag indicating the death of a world-changing political icon with the passing of a popstar.

And thus, #nowthatchersdead did become “…wait, Cher died?”

This is a great lesson for all social media marketers out there – no matter how airtight you think your social marketing campaign is, someone, somewhere, will be confused by it.  If you’re lucky, they’ll keep their confusion to themselves, but more than likely, they’ll take the Twitterverse/Facebook-o-sphere like angry, keyboard-wielding sheep, bleating curses at your organization regarding:

  • How ignorant/racist your marketing campaign is because they didn’t get it (or didn’t like it)
  • How lame your campaign is compared to a competitor’s campaign because, again, they did not like and/or get it

True, it is possible that your social media campaign sucks, which is another blog post altogether.  Assuming, however, that your campaign does not, in fact, suck, then you need to prepare for these angry users – have a set of tweets/responses ready to meet to a whole spectrum of negativity, but also understand that these responses will likely be met with either silence or poorly-spelled profanity.  While showing some proactivity may not silence the angriest critics, it will at least show your community that you care enough to respond and to set the record straight.

Obviously, #nowthatchersdead isn’t a marketing campaign – it’s a funeral.  It does, however, go to show just how far misunderstandings can go on social media.

–John Terrill

John Terrill
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