Twitter Fail Whale

Social Media Professionals Need To Stop #Failing

Twitter Fail WhaleI was showing a business owner Twitter the other day.  He’s one of those old school pen and paper types, that clearly doesn’t get it.   Sure his business earns millions a year, and has survived more recessions than a lot of social media consultants have had years in the workplace, but what difference does that make?  The fact is, he’s smart enough to know that social is something he needs to learn more about.  That’s why we were talking.

So I was showing him this wonderful tool.  You know, the one that provides a way to listen to what people are saying online, about your brand, your competitors, your industry, all in real-time!  I started with the basics.  Brought up the old  It was all going well until I put in some industry keywords.

Then there is was- #FAIL!!!!  Not just the passive #fail, but the ALL CAPS WITH MULTIPLE EXCLAMATION POINTS!!! fail.  The big dog.  Even worse, it was being thrown by someone with a huge following and that made their living doing social media consulting.

“Wow, that guy’s pissed.  Can we see who he is?”  I filled him in.  “Wait, he has THAT many people following him on this thing, and his job is working with companies on this thing, and THAT is how he talks about a business?  Is he crazy?”  Clearly doesn’t get it.

This got me thinking about the rampant hypocrisy of #fail.  I know that social media gives us all an easy place to vent, but if  you make your living “in this space” you may want to remember a certain saying about relieving yourself where you eat.  If you’re one of those consultants who have talked to a business that was afraid to get into social media because people may say bad things, and thrown the #fail tag, you’re doing it wrong! Please stop.

Let’s face it, the hashtag is not something that is batted around by the uninitiated.  I’m not saying that people shouldn’t use social media to complain.  On the contrary, I think that a business being able to identify an unhappy customer is incredibly empowering.  It puts them in the postion of being able to chose whether or not to respond.  Having that choice is always better than not having it.

What I am saying, is that it’s hard enough to get companies that are afraid of social media to set aside that fear, without the people that earn a living using these tools making things worse.

Research has shown that a small 2% of Twitter power users account for almost 60% of all tweets. About 22% of users account for 90% of all the activity on Twitter.  So a small group sets the tone.  If your tweet count is well into the four digits and beyond, you may be a power user.  Wouldn’t it be better if those if us who’s job involves social media made an effort to set a positive tone?  #Justsayin.

As I write this, it is 9:50 PM on a random Wednesday.  I did a quick search on the #fail hashtag, looked away for a minute, and discovered that Twitter is throwing out #fails at a rate of more than 100 per minute.  That’s a lot of unhappy.

Twitter search screen shot

Beyond the whole messing things up for the rest of us thing, you may also want to consider yourself.  If your job involves social media, or even if it doesn’t, there is a good chance clients, and potential employers are going to check out your profile.  Will you be proud of what they see?  Take Mitch Joel’s Twitter Test, and see if your “real-time resume” stacks up.





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