Bandwidth » Tech Insights from H&K Canada's social media strategy team Fri, 07 Jan 2011 21:05:56 +0000 en hourly 1 Why social media schadenfreude is scarier than swine flu Fri, 09 Oct 2009 22:33:02 +0000 Meghan Warby There’s a particularly startling epidemic happening in the online world, which I’m noticing mainly in Toronto of late.  It might just be the 2.0 version of the classic Canadian tall poppy syndrome, but this strain is turning out to be stronger & scarier than swine flu.  Victims are compelled (nay, forced?) to gush out unnecessary mea culpas, fall on their twittering swords & hide in abject terror of the virus reappearing.  It disguises itself as a ‘transparency’ inoculation or an ‘authenticity’ booster shot, but there is only one diagnosis for the unfortunate malady-stricken online risk-takers – they’ve been bitten by social media schadenfreude.

Now I’m the first to grab the popcorn when things get spicy on the political scene, and don’t get between me and my indierock drama…BUT when it comes to jumping down people’s throats in an online/professional context…I get a little…empathetic.  By the luck of astrologically-aligned-nerd-stars, my salty slangly casual language whilst pitching bloggers, writing content & generally floundering through life has not put in me in this position.  According to the law of averages, until I am drafted to the WNBA, I will soon play the role of the  ’social media practitioner’ or ‘community member’ receiving a thorough ego trouncing from the peanut gallery.  {In fact, if those web gremlins continue to highjack a lovely microsite/app-project we’re eager to seed/launch I might be in this position early next week :) }

We all make mistakes.  If we’re doing right by our clients, we aren’t just going through the same-old super-safe motions developing & executing campaigns.  Ask any stellar standup comedian.  Some jokes kill and some jokes bomb.  That’s life.

So on this turkey weekend eve, let’s be thankful that there are social media peeps still taking risks, let’s remember that when this happens with ad campaigns we think it’s unique & quirky & let’s consider the embarassment of riches we have in terms of attending awesome events.  Before you pile on to critique someone going out on a limb or trying something new or having an opinion…ask yourself if you really want to end up like these dudes:

Enough with the peanut gallery already

*Massive full disclosure – A staffer at Social Media Group is my basketball bud & I have been known to enjoy cheap soft-serve ‘ice cream’ with Refresh Events founder.

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Why online protests fail IRL Mon, 31 Aug 2009 02:42:16 +0000 Meghan Warby What do KISS, IKEA & Muslim women have in common? Unfortunately there’s no snappy punchline, it’s just an excuse to weave a nerd narrative through a bunch of interesting news stories.

I’m sure by now you’ve got your Oshawa B&B resos, relieved to hear the city’s glam-rocker residents’ KISS ARMY allegiance wasn’t in vain. The band ran a straightforward prove-how-much-you-love-us online contest, which was styled like a petition, requiring city residents to submit email addresses, & promised a concert for the winning city (regrettably it was a KISS concert).  After the band announced the winning city, they published a tour schedule that did not include Oshawa. Now, it doesn’t take Columbo to examine a tour schedule & discover a gap that is geographically & schedule-wise able to accommodate a ’secret’ show or ‘by popular demand’ second night in a venue (Hello Wilco, Welcome to Massey Hall x2!).  Nonetheless, the interwebs’ hyper hypos have an irrepressible impulse to stretch their harnesses.  The city was up in arms, thousands joined Facebook protest groups, locals became ‘representatives’ on news outlets, fansites heaved & a PR maelstrom ensued.  Can’t completely blame unnerved fans for their reaction, but it proves that an online ‘petition’ campaign banking on engaging region-specific communities must reach all stakeholders clearly, consistently & concurrently – online & in ‘public’/mainstream media messaging – or face the wrath of multiple red-dye-tongue-waggings.

From KISS to kisses, The Times’ Freakonomics blogger Steven Dubner references gay rights kissing protests in Salt Lake City (or ‘IRL’ – in real life) in a fantastic quorum post called ‘How Much Do Protests Really Matter?’.  It’s a great long piece that highlights some of the most effective protests throughout history – & puts the KISS KRAP, ridiculous IKEA font fiasco & the ultimate online overreaction of #AmazonFail (of which Shirkey’s blushing reflection is the best) – into perspective.  Kent State, this ain’t. Aside from totally dismissing the online flareups, what can be gleaned from recent issues that’ve made their way into the mainstream?

One positive example of addressing consumer concerns straight-on is the triage-style response from Tim Horton’s to their comp’ed coffee clusterfritter.  After being accused of supporting anti-gay groups, HQ calmly, widely, publicly stated otherwise, while explaining the franchisee relationship & corporate values in a balanced manner.  Though they’ll go down in Twitter history as being ‘too slow’, realistically a major multi-national addressing an online issue centered on a (not ideal ideologically…) backwoods charity BBQ in less than 48 hours (counting weekend days…sadly the downside of our email era is expectation to check 24/7) is approaching impressive.

Finally, last Sunday’s NYTimes magazine on women’s issues had a special ‘The Medium’ column on Feminist Hawks by Virginia Herrernan. It illustrates how ‘motherhood’ issues (for lack of a better word…) can be repackaged, re-purposed & emailed for protest campaigns under new auspices.  In this case an anti-Afghan outlook was wrapped in women’s rights.  Herrernan tracked a popular email petition propelled by pundits such as David Horowitz that sought signatures supporting persecuted Muslim women, but stated military aggression was the solution to women’s liberation.  “This material is expected to help seal Horowitz’s general case for the war on terror, though he has not yet changed the name of his cause to, say, the war on misogyny.”

It might be hard to assign a #fail to online protests writ large, but the summer months brought a new level of inane chatter that could be called out & calmed down as the temperature drops & leaves begin to fall.  Creating online communities, sharing fact-checked/substantiated information & organizing IRL events is one of the strengths of the internet.  Our creative communities’ ongoing successes in subverting negative legislative/funding changes & presenting a strong case for supporting the arts is my favourite example of combining social networks, multimedia & the power of assembly to affect legislative change & public discourse.  Maybe revisiting the history of protests & learning from past well-informed, organized, thoughtful participants, will remind us of this.  You’ve been assigned Whingeing History for first period, first semester – enjoy the final days of summer, kids )

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