Nobody is perfect; no one is above making a mistake, least of all on social media. In fact, social media is rife with obstacles that can trip anyone up. Even a major corporation.
Last month, during the “Bendgate” ballyhoo, I read this hilarious article on CNET about the French division of LG. Apparently, after the stories of bent iPhone 6 Pluses—is that how we’re spelling it?—LG France sent out a tweet with a not-so-subtle dig at Apple, saying that their G Flex phones don’t bend because their “naturally curved,” which is true (to a point).
It was actually a funny tweet, of which I am in favor. However, this tweet wasn’t a properly thought as it should have been. It had a image of the G Flex, the proper hashtag, and even a nice emoticon. The problem, though, wasn’t that the tweet was missing something; the problem was how it was sent! This tweet was sent from an iPhone! Whoops!
I believe the French call this a “faux pas.”
Other Notable Social Media Screw-Ups
I’m all for using Twitter or social media sarcastically. There’s nothing wrong with gentle teasing. It’s not bullying. However, you don’t want to be teasing someone for something while leaving yourself open to even worse teasing. LG (or its PR company) making fun of Apple for possibly producing a lemon with the iPhone 6 Plus would have been funny while also promoting LG’s phone, but it was undermined by the tweet coming from an iPhone.
Of course, this isn’t the first time this has happened. Ellen used Samsung phones while in front of the cameras at this year’s Oscars, but she used (I’m guessing) her personal iPhone backstage. In 2012, Oprah tweeted about how much she loved Microsoft’s Surface tablet, but she did so from an iPad. Advertising well spent, right?
It’s hard to imagine how the biggest companies in the world can have their reputations tarnished by something as trivial as tweet, and yet here’s the proof. There are so many mistakes that it’s hard to point out what went wrong, out I think we can distill a few things, some specific to these silly situations but also some general truths.
Some Tips to Avoiding Trouble
People in glass houses shouldn’t tweet bricks—You can’t make fun of a device you’re using, even if it almost certainly was an earlier model. Before you’re getting ready to call someone or something out on social media, you’d better make sure that you’re not guilty of the same or a similar wrong.
Be careful of who you give control of your brand—I’m sure everyone’s aware of the danger of a potentially disgruntled employee having access to a company (or church’s) social media accounts, but what about a spokesperson or celebrity endorser who isn’t a “true believer”? Based upon the anecdotes above, this is clearly an important thing for company’s to consider, but what about churches? Hard to imagine an employee lasting very long who isn’t a “true believer” in the faith, but what if they’re lacking faith not in Christ but in the lead pastor’s/church’s vision? That could be a considerable long-term issue.
Slow down and take the time to verify your message—I doubt that LG (or the PR firm) would have sent such a silly tweet if they’d only slowed down and verified what they would actually be communicating by tweeting. I mean, we all know that what we say is only part of our message: how we say it is also a crucial element. If they tweeter in question had paused long enough to reflect, perhaps they would have realized the absurdity of mocking Apple from an iPhone and then held off on the tweet long enough to get to a desktop…or an LG phone.
Train your social media staff—In all of these stories, if the person tweeting had only know that the app sending their tweet also announces what platform war used for sending it, none of this would have happened. “Hey, Oprah. When you send out the agreed upon pro-Surface tweet later today, don’t use your iPad because people will be able to tell that you tweeted from an iPad.” Training goes a long, long, long way to prevented problems before they start.
Maybe we should just stop being disingenuous—How about we all stop trying to sell ourselves or something else on social media and instead try to engage in meaningful dialogue? Ok? No? Sure, ok, that’s cool, too.
Social media isn’t a beast to be tamed or a resource to be tapped. It’s a gather of people of varying interests, needs, and experiences. If you want to engage them, they’d love to have you. If you want to mindlessly spew out whatever pops into your head, mixing messages and leaving yourself vulnerable to charges of hypocrisy. I’m not saying that you can’t use social media to share blog posts or podcasts or whatever, but if all you’re doing is auto-tweeting/sharing your posts and podcasts, you’re going to end up blending in as social media white noise or worse—standing out by making a huge mistake or faux pas.
Have you ever screwed upon social media?
[LG Flex image via LG]