Don’t you love catching a viral wave? It seems that every couple of days something breaks the Internet. Remember the dress that was either black and blue or gold and white? How many couples broke up over that viral meme?
Nowhere is the explosive power of social media more visible than in the Twitterverse. At last count, there were around 236 million active Twitter users. Naturally, businesses want to carve out a piece of that bird pie. However, it doesn’t take much for a well-intentioned PR campaign to go quickly off the rails. It all starts by asking for a response. What can go wrong in 140 characters? Plenty, actually.
Don’t Ask JPM
Awhile back, the ginormous and too-big-fail banking kraken, J.P. Morgan, innocently launched a PR campaign with the hashtag askJPM. Well, folks asked questions like, “When can I get my house back?” and “Is it true JPM stands for Just Pay More?” After being slammed with more than 24,000 posts of the not-so-friendly variety, J.P. Morgan pulled the plug within just a couple of hours. Who knew there was so much anger against a big bank?
The Mocking Heard Round the World
Over in Britain, the upscale supermarket Waitrose wanted to get its loyal customers to share their shopping experiences. Instead, they got a boatload of snark when they asked followers to finish this sentence: “I shop at Waitrose because …”
Favorite responses included “I shop at Waitrose because if you buy a full tank of helicopter fuel you get 10 percent off champagne. It is a recession, after all.” Plus, “I shop at Waitrose as Tabitha and Tarquin only eat phoenix eggs that have been collected by wizards who share their values.” Perhaps the unkindest – and funniest – cut of all came with, “I shop at Waitrose because I hate poor people.” Yikes.
No Love for Ronald
Recently, McDonald’s gave its mascot Ronald a makeover and wanted to share the news with the world. Cue the Twitter trolls who likened Ronald McDonald to the “Joe Camel of fast food.” It wasn’t pretty.
If you intend to launch a PR campaign over the Twittersphere, stand by for flack. In most cases, it’s best to approach it with a sense of humor.