Custom Digital Marketing & Interactive Media Consulting

Social Media RE: Boston Marathon Bombings

It was merely a month ago that tragedy struck the city of Boston when two explosive devices detonated among the crowd gathered at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, injuring hundreds and killing three - with a fourth life taken during the ensuing manhunt for the two suspects.

One thing of note is the consistent presence of social media during and after the bombings. Whether it was the media digging into the online profiles of the suspects (Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev) or ordinary citizens turned photojournalists, documenting and sharing what they saw, what they heard, what they experienced.

Below is a collection of links addressing the presence of social media in terms of the Boston bombings, providing some analysis - some good, some bad and some ugly:




A pair from the UK:



and one last one:



What's your take? Do you agree with those in the 'Reddit spiraled out of control' camp? What about the positives, like Google's People Finder and the Boston PD Twitter feed? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
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106 & hack'd

Back in mid-February 2013 (i know, try to remember back that far), on the heels of the (very public) hackings of the Burger King and Jeep Twitter feeds, Viacom siblings MTV and BET appeared to be the next corporate Twitter profile victims.
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To recap:

Burger King's Twitter feed touted the sale of the fast food chain to rival McDonald's, complete with a McDonald's avatar and header image. While under the control of the hackers, BK's feed included obscenities, racial epithets and drug-use references.

Similarly, Jeep's Twitter feed touted the sale of the Chrysler division to Cadillac. Much like the BK/McD fiasco, Jeep's feed included vulgar tweets and references to drug use while under the hacker's control.
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However, all was not lost for Burger King - their Twitter account gained over 30,000 followers while being run by the hackers.

It's likely that stat, combined with the publicity generated by such public hacks, that prompted MTV and BET to give it a whirl.

They decided to fake-hack each other.

They gave it all the appearances of the previous hacks, switching avatar images, changing names and bios to reflect being "hacked" while peppering the Twitter feeds with unusual/out of character tweets (often promoting something from the "hacking" network).

MTV and BET mocked those who "fell for it" by retweeting them.

But something didn't smell right to members of the Twittersphere.

The "hacker" tweets were merely friendly digs at the "hackee" … and both MTV and BET are members of the Viacom family.

Turns out, it was all a joke (using quite a broad definition of the word "joke"). It was a PR stunt cooked up by the social media teams of MTV and BET.

Folks were not amused.

For example:

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Others joined in, ripping MTV and BET for such a "lame" stunt, for a weak attempt to "stay relevant" and essentially asking to be hacked (for real) by using a fake hack as a publicity stunt.

Never one to let a comedic opportunity pass him by, Stephen Colbert, host of The Colbert Report on Comedy Central, threw his hat in the ring, running a story about the BK hack (that it gained followers) and the MTV/BET PR stunt. To skewer the practice, in turn mocking his own parent company (Comedy Central is also a member of the Viacom family), Colbert faked his Twitter feed (@StephenatHome) being hacked by fellow Viacom property VH1 Classic.

ColbertVH!




The entire bit served to highlight the absurdity of the stunt, and how ridiculous MTV and BET looked for doing it.

The take-away lesson here - Be Authentic.

Trying to 'pull a fast one' or 'get one over' on people is frowned upon in Internetland. Usually that is reserved just for those that vigorously try to hide the fact that something is fake. BET and MTV fessed up to the stunt after just a couple of hours, and they were still taken to task for faking their hack. In trying to be 'cool and edgy' by manufacturing their relevance with a Twitter hack, MTV and BET only showed how out of touch they are, how much they don't 'get it.'




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The Big DISH Tweet

From the In Case You Missed It files, a quick lesson.

Kaley Cuoco – aka Penny on CBS’s “The Big Bang Theory” – recently sent out a paid endorsement tweet, as celebrities and famous internet people are apt to do, endorsing DISH’s Hopper DVR.

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As you can see, the tweet was marked with #ad, so that isn’t the issue.  The problem is Cuoco’s employer, CBS, is currently in litigation with DISH over the Hopper DVR.

Oops.  It looks like Cuoco is going against her employer, praising the Hopper while her network is locked in a contentious lawsuit over the Hopper.

The tweet is now gone, and no one in Cuoco’s camp is saying anything more about it.

As an objective, third-party observer, all this appears to be just a misunderstanding.  There seems to be no malice toward CBS, Cuoco doesn’t appear to be slamming her network in praising DISH and their Hopper DVR.  More than likely, she sent out the tweet (compensated by DISH for doing so), someone (probably at CBS HQ) whispered in her ear ‘hey, you know we are suing them, right?’ and she took down the tweet.  No harm, no foul.  Lesson learned.  Let’s move on.

Leave it to the parties in the lawsuit to blow things a bit out of proportion and get their digs in on the other side.

DISH accused CBS of forcing Cuoco to remove the tweet.  CBS said DISH was full of baloney. (Clearly I’m paraphrasing here)

Lost in the catty rhetoric of opposing parties in a lawsuit is a valuable lesson.

In short – Think Before You Tweet

There have been countless tales of Twitter woe, tweeting something to everyone you intended to be private (see Anthony Weiner), posting something in questionable taste or in error (American Apparel & Gap, KitchenAid), or not taking into account the larger picture (Entenmann's). 

Cuoco, if anything, would be guilty of the third – not taking into account the larger picture of her employer being in a legal battle with the product for which she voiced her (paid) support.

In all fairness to Cuoco, keeping abreast of all the legal comings and goings of her employer is really outside her scope of interest.  And it is clear the ad tweet itself was well-crafted and a good use of the medium to get the message across.  Kudos to DISH for leveraging Twitter and the celebrity of Kaley Cuoco effectively.

This kind of situation is something that is going to come up with greater frequency as more and more employees and companies enter the social media space to interact and conduct business.

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Coach’s tip: A :60 Twitter TO

Before you click to post your musings or your crafted marketing message, take a :60 time out.  Read over what you have written.  Is it concise, accurate message?  Have someone else read it, preferably someone not in your department/team.  Does it mean what you intend it to mean?  Do hashtags relate to the subject, or have they been used by another entity, with an entirely different meaning?  Could your tweet be interpreted another way? 

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Hunger Gaming for iMedia Gangnam Style

This may be over-simplifying things a bit, but there seems to be two opposing yet effective schools of thought when it comes to iMedia, in particular utilization of social media:

and
  • The ‘Gangnam Style’ school of thought, generally referred to as viral marketing. The idea being to catch lighting in a bottle, have your content ‘go viral’ and ride that attention as long as you can, using it as a springboard to launch further efforts




With The Hunger Games (THG) approach, there is (obviously) a greater amount of control. Under the THG approach, organizations take an active role in shaping the conversation and the arena where the conversation takes place. When an organization is active in the process, the odds that positive results will be realized, and be measureable, are greatly increased.

Another part of the THG approach is planning – extensive planning. Determining and analyzing your audience, defining the overall objective of the strategy as well as specific goals you hope to attain, planning your content in some form of an editorial calendar, determining what (and how) you are going to measure and track to determine what works vs. what doesn’t – all are things that have to be considered and accounted for under the THG approach. The upside being that going in with clear goals, defined objectives, a content schedule and a plan to track and measure success/ROI, you can structure the conversation in such a way to increase the odds of success. In short, as the saying goes – if you fail to plan, plan to fail.

The drawback to the THG school of thought is that it is resource-intensive. Going through the process of planning, implementing, measuring, tweaking and executing your social plan takes time – time you have to be willing to spend to make sure you do your social plan effectively. As I have always said, iMedia used ineffectively and incorrectly can be just as damaging as not using it at all, so be sure to invest the necessary time to effectively execute the THG approach.

Aside from the time investment, to successfully execute the THG approach, it takes (to borrow a line from Liam Neeson’s character in Taken), “a very particular set of skills.” A deep knowledge and understanding of the social space – the platforms involved, how to effectively leverage each tool to maximize the benefits – is critical to giving your execution of the THG approach the best odds of success.

Even executing the THG approach, with all the planning and scheduling and crafting, there is one catch – you cannot control 100% of what goes on in the social space. The nature of iMedia and social media is right there in their names – it’s interactive and social. But playing that active role, having plans in place for executing your social efforts, even having crisis management protocol in place is essential. Going into the social space prepared, having a clear plan and clear vision for what you want to achieve and how you are going to achieve it, exponentially increases your odds of positive results and greater ROI.





On the flip side, there is the ‘Gangnam Style’ (GS) school of thought. Often talked about in terms of getting something to go “viral,” the idea is to catch lightning in a bottle, create a piece of content that is instantly spreadable and sticky – people are apt to share it and people remember it. Much like the song Gangnam Style from Korean artist PSY, following the GS school of thought means implementing content that is catchy, people want to share it, and it crosses cultural/socio-economic/geographic borders (appeals to and can be appreciated by a wide and varied audience).

The upside to the GS school of thought is that it’s the social space itself that essentially does the marketing and promotion for you. It is the members of the online community that share your content and link to it, spreading it around and expanding your content’s reach. If your content happens to find itself at the intersection of “spreadability” and “stickiness,” at the corner of pop culture and the societal zeitgeist, you’ve hit the Internet jackpot – views, hits, visits, links, mentions and retweets will come in fast and furious, possibly alongside main stream media mentions. The buzz and excitement that is generated around you and your thing is something that cannot be bought, and you can ride that wave to limitless possibilities. If (and that is a big if) you can catch the lighting, the recognition/awareness factor is exponential.

The drawback is it is extremely hard to pull off. It is nearly impossible to know the mix of ingredients that will make a successful GS school of thought strategy. As much as some social media ‘gurus’ like to tell you there is a universal formula for the GS school of thought strategy, there really isn’t. You can examine content that has gone viral, pick up some common elements, get a rough outline of GS suggestions, but that is likely about as close as you can get. Try too hard, plugging your content into a viral formula, trying to create that lighting in the bottle instead of catching it, and the social space will see right through your fabrication efforts.

The best GS-based strategies are no strategies at all. They happen organically, they happen naturally. You put your content out there and set it free. Whether it goes “gangnam” or not is up to your target clientele, the audience and the social community as a whole.

The Hunger Games style vs. Gangnam Style – the choice is yours. Meticulously plan, measure, schedule and construct each piece of your strategy or do something a little bit off-the-wall and wait to see what happens. Mix them both or do nothing at all for that matter. No matter what, the power and reach of social and iMedia must be leveraged in some way, shape or form so as to not get left behind in the race for more customers and ultimately more revenue. But, it must be done properly or you may end up doing more harm than good.

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Generation Gap

*embedded clips are from cable, viewer discretion is advised*

From The Daily Show with Jon Stewart on Comedy Central, discussing Google’s new glasses technology and Facebook buying Instagram --



While it may be a humorous point of view, it does address an issue that we in the new and interactive media world must not ever lose sight of -- a generation gap when it comes to new technologies. It is paramount to keep this in mind when developing new services, technologies, platforms, etc. Some of the gap is societal, some of it behavioral, some of it institutional, some of it stereotypical, but it is there. You may have the next Instagram app or idea, but if it isn’t accessible, user-friendly and easy for at least the majority to understand, it’s worthless.
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