Hashtag PR campaigns can go either way. It’s a reality you have to embrace before you ever decide to embark on a very public conversation in a very flippant, off the cuff context. But, brands try it all the time. Some with great success, including Adidas UK, the WWE, Starbucks, and Taco Bell. Some, like JetBlue can look at their social media forays as a bit of a mixed bag. Others go completely off the rails. Looking at youMcDstories. The NFL’s #AskCommish campaign fits squarely in the latter.
Understanding these points can help your business keep from making the same mistakes.
#1 – The demographic is snarky, the forum makes it more so: You never get away with heckling a professional comedian, and you never get away with getting a group of football fans together without a healthy dose of razzing. It’s part of the fan culture, and it’s most often a fun and healthy social aspect of the game. But, there’s something about Twitter that turns everyone into a comedian, and the one-sided nature of the venue – only one Commish and millions of “funny guys” – makes for a very uneven playing field.
#2 – No other voice: These are fans suddenly given access to the Commissioner. That’s like Greeks suddenly being transported to Olympus. For one brief moment, the football gods are listening. Of course you’re going to let them have it. Even if Goodell wasn’t responsible for whatever reason you have to feel aggrieved, this is too great a chance to pass up.
#3 – Unaddressed discontent: This last point ties in with the previous. Fans have made their discontent known in very public ways in the past. Much of that went unnoticed, or at least was perceived to have gone unnoticed. That frustration has built up, and SUDDENLY the people have a very public outlet.
The solutions? Use Twitter in a more controlled, less Wild West context. JetBlue is a mixed bag not because it gets hammered by discontented flyers, but because that discontent is moderated by scads of great customer service examples. Other companies effectively use Twitter and other social media as forums for fans to continue a conversation. It’s less a gripe session, and more of a give and take. Not only does this present the fans an opportunity to air grievances, it also allows them to feel as if they are part of a larger voice.