Managing elephant-sized social media blunders
Global brand strategist Jonathan Salem Baskin can’t help but scratch his head over the rationale behind the controversial social media dispatch from GoDaddy founder Bob Parsons. The flamboyant CEO sparked a backlash recently when he posted a video link to his elephant shoot in Kenya Zimbabwe.
Baskin offers the following advice on how small businesses can prevent or manage social media blunders.
Q: Are social media posts pertaining to a business owner’s non-business doings relevant to consumers?
A: It is a sideshow. Just because there’s (social) media that helps blur those things doesn’t mean you have to fall for it. YouTube doesn’t care if your employees humiliate themselves. The stupider you are, the happier these platforms are because it creates buzz and traffic. You don’t make any money from that.
Q: What about the old argument that no press is bad press?
A: That’s a cliché quote from 50 years ago. If anything, it’s either at best neutral and at worst it turns people off. Aren’t half the people in America women? The last time I checked — so he’s already writing off half of America with his (prior) stupid shenanigans. Now he wants to write off anybody who loves animals. What is the attention good for?
Q: You sound like a traditionalist. What about the idea that these need channels facilitate more interaction between businesses and their customers?
A: The technology shouldn’t’ change what you talk about and why you talk. Rules haven’t changed. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. There is a wide range of possibilities available to businesses to better engage with customers. The goal is not engagement, the goal is selling. Engagement is how we get there. So if it’s not a direct line, not even dotted line, to a sales transaction, you really need to ask long and hard not just if I can, but should I?
Baskin’s tips for managing the fallout from social media gaffes:
1. Figure out how to end it as soon as possible and the best way to end it is to apologize.
2. If you truly alienated or otherwise offended people who really matter to you, you have to circle back to them, whether they’re critics, influential bloggers or more importantly, actual customers.
3. Avoid doing the same thing again. If you don’t learn your lesson from what Parsons is doing and you go do it yourself, then shame on you. Just because you can do something doesn’t really mean you should.