Posts Tagged ‘Social Media’

Corporations “Late” to the #Party: Overuse of the Infamous Hashtag

Wednesday, July 30th, 2014

Hashtags seem to be taking over all forms of social media.  Considering Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook have almost 2 billion users collectively, it would be a crime for corporations not to take advantage of this free marketing opportunity.  But many wonder, have corporations taken the hashtag too far?  With recent evidence, it would seem so.


Hashtags are words or phrases preceded by a hash sign, which become hyperlinked on social media, grouping posts with the same words or “messages” together.  Common examples are #throwbackthursday accompanying a picture from the past or #sorrynotsorry used to sarcastically apologize for a guilty act one is actually proud of.  Newly developed hashtags are now popping up in ad campaigns, storefronts, billboards and even printed on consumer product packaging.  By using consistent hashtags as part of an advertising campaign, it can extend the conversation about a product or service and reach a broader audience.  Once a hashtag is launched, corporations monitor its use and those who are using it.  They can also interact with those using the hashtag and engage users with large followings on Twitter to encourage their promotion.

Overall the use of a simple word or short phrase has become more powerful than ever, but corporations have recently failed to launch hashtags worthy of attention.  According to the Wall Street Journal, corporations like Neutrogena and Equinox gyms have recently promoted hashtags, #unseenacne and #preapologize, respectively.  Unfortunately both of these hashtags gained negative feedback for what I think are obvious reasons.  First of all, who wants to tweet about unseen ACNE?  Although the majority of social media users are young and probably victims of acne, NO ONE likes to start a conversation about acne.  Neutrogena obviously failed to consult adolescents on this one or even their own common sense.  If no one likes to talk about acne, what makes you think they will tweet about it for the whole world to see?


Now for Equinox, I will applaud them on one thing- their originality.  I have certainly never heard of the word “preapologize” and it is certainly not in Webster’s dictionary.  Unfortunately, creating a new word can lead to many confused users, as Equinox has received many direct questions about the meaning of preapologize.  It turns out that #preapologize was meant to be a copy of a previously popularized hashtag, #sorrynotsorry, but if your users do not know the meaning of your hashtag, it is very difficult for them to use, defeating the purpose of the hashtag.

Before a corporation exposes a new hashtag to the world, it would be wise for them to ask themselves this question: Would I use my corporation’s hashtag?  If the answer is no, go back to the drawing board.  As corporations seem out of touch, it may be a good idea to consult the corporation where it all began.  Twitter, Inc. has a team that helps companies integrate hashtags into their marketing campaigns and tend to advise them to “tap into organic trending topics.”  By entering a conversation organically, it may seem less like marketing and more personal.  Do you appreciate corporation’s efforts in attempting to enter the hashtag revolution?  Or do you prefer they stay out of your social network?  Perhaps it’s better for some corporations to stay away from the “difficult-to-master” hashtag and focus their attention elsewhere.

Photo credit: ©

‘Til Death Do Us Part: Your Digital Presence After Death

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014

Have you ever wondered what will happen to your email and social media accounts once you die?  Nope, neither have I… but Yahoo certainly has.  While most people who are aging write their wills, decide their final arrangements, and organize their finances, Yahoo seems to take care of the rest.  A new service, Yahoo Ending, has been launched by Yahoo Japan to help their large elderly population manage their digital presence after death.  The service costs about $1.77/ month.

Prior to death it helps users with funeral arrangements by estimating costs and searching for cemeteries. After death it can stop automatic bill payments through the Yahoo Japan wallet service and loved ones can visit a special bulletin-board page for the deceased and post memorial messages.  Yahoo Ending not only conveniently erases all data in email accounts, but also sends a final message to up to 200 people when your death is confirmed.  It all may sound a bit morbid but in actuality- quite convenient.

In an interview with The Japan Times, Yahoo Japan spokesperson Megumi Nakashima mentioned possible greater development in Yahoo Ending’s services, allowing the deceased to manage their post-life affairs on non-Yahoo Japan services.

“For example, we are thinking of partnering with credit-card companies,” Nakashima said, “so that the user can configure Yahoo Ending to tell such companies to close out the user’s account.”

With the advancement of technology in our generation such services may become necessary to all those digitally involved.  By taking responsibility of our online accounts before death we can assure our loved ones will not have to “care“ for our digital needs.  It may seem to be a premature measure just for an email account but it could prevent harmful phishing and identity theft.  Would you invest in this service for less than $24/year?  Or could you care less about your digital reputation post-mortem?  Given this opportunity, it may be beneficial to invest in deleting your online past… before it’s too late.

Photo by ©


When Companies Get Catfished

Wednesday, July 17th, 2013

When it comes to online reviews, a company’s friends and its enemies may be one and the same. A recent study found that a company’s devoted customers are actually the most prevalent creators of fake negative online reviews. Think of it as a company’s version of being Catfished: The company assumes the negative reviewer’s an enemy, but when it knocks on the door, out comes one of its loyal customers. Cue the heartbreak and tears.

These customers are “self-appointed brand managers” who are so closely attached to the company that they take any missteps personally. They are like overly attached partners who lash out at what they view as threats to their relationship. They’re also like the nagging mother: She has the company’s best interests in mind, but she can’t help but point out that one thing it’s doing wrong, and she’s certainly not afraid of embarrassing it in public.

This obviously appears to be bad news for companies, as negative reviews could lead to a negative reputation. However, when it comes to the Internet, the number one rule is to never take things at face value, because people express themselves in different ways online (I’ve already mentioned Catfish, right?). In essence, online reviews are a low-credibility form of learning about the quality of a product or service. Wait… does that mean the Hutzler 571 Banana Slicer isn’t a life changing product?

However, the idea that customers feel so devoted or tied to a company that they appoint themselves as “brand managers” is actually a good thing. These customers actually care about and are invested in the company’s operations, and they should lead to a bolstered reputation. The new challenge for companies is to channel their customers’ passionate feelings into more constructive pursuits than negative reviews.

Companies finding a barrage of negative reviews left by their so-called devoted customers must develop a strong social media presence. And no, this does not mean companies should just post puppy and kitten pictures on their Facebook pages.

What companies should do is move customer complaints toward their social media platforms. Companies who are responsive to complaints over social media strengthen their relationships with customers, who feel heard. A bonus is that the customers will never again complain that the company’s afraid of a little PDA, and others can see that the company’s accommodating and responsive.

The formula is simple: Let your customers’ voices be heard, but make sure they are able to hear your responses, too.

Golden Corral’s Dumpster Food

Tuesday, July 9th, 2013

Horror stories involving the disgusting mishandling of food by restaurant franchise employees aren’t exactly surprising anymore, but that doesn’t make new offenses any less nauseating. The latest whistle blower is Brandon Huber, an employee at Golden Corral’s Port Orange, Fla., location. Mr. Huber posted a YouTube video displaying, among other food items, an abundance of raw meat located next to an outdoor dumpster. Flies also surrounded the food. Ah, who doesn’t love that extra little zest to baby back ribs that can only be provided by marinating them next to a dumpster?

Golden Corral now faces a crisis. The YouTube video has garnered more than 2.3 million views, the story has permeated around social media platforms like Twitter and Reddit and now the mainstreammedia are picking up the story.

So, clearly Golden Corral has been begging for forgiveness, right?


So far, Golden Corral has done exactly one thing right: it’s met its key audience members where they are at by responding to the issue on social media platforms like YouTube, Twitter and Facebook, where the story first broke. This ensures that, at the very least, its key audiences will be exposed to its response.

As for its actual response? Well, it stinks worse than its Port Orange restaurant’s dumpster meat. The Golden Corral official Twitter handle tweeted the following:


Keep in mind that this is the franchise’s first and only response to the crisis on its Twitter handle. No apology, just an “FYI” that gives the response unnecessary attitude. Even worse, the Golden Corral YouTube account responded to the video in a post that was flagged as spam.

Eric Holm, owner of the Port Orange Golden Corral restaurant, released a statement on the Golden Corral Facebook page. Mr. Holm doesn’t seem to understand the ramifications of the video, which he claims shows “improperly stored food,” a nice spin on what many others call “dumpster food.” Customers are now questioning whether or not this was an isolated incident, and he provides no reassurance. He also actually expresses disappointment at Mr. Huber for exposing the restaurant’s hazardous practices, which is something he is free to feel in private, but he should never be stating in public.

So, how should Golden Corral respond?

Golden Corral must take ownership, apologize and tell customers how it’s going to fix the problem.

So far, Golden Corral’s response gives the appearance that it views the situation as an annoyance that it shouldn’t have to deal with. To remedy this, Eric Holm needs to appear on video appearing genuinely remorseful that the situation happened at all, rather than upset that it was reported upon after it had (supposedly) been resolved. He needs to take personal ownership for allowing incompetent management to place food in such a hazardous area. He must answer why management even had to resort to hiding food near a fly-infested dumpster to avoid a food health inspection, and he must prove that the food that continues to be served actually lives up to food safety standards. Finally, he must tell his customers how he will ensure that a situation like this never happens again.

Simply put, apologies need to be made and action needs to be taken. If these things don’t happen, the food isn’t the only part of Golden Corral that will wind up in the dumpster.


Sporting a Social Media Policy

Friday, September 30th, 2011

A huge fixture of sports in our digital age is the increasing presence of social media as a tool for providing information, insight into teams and entertainment. These social media outlets provide the players, coaches and sometimes even the owners of teams with a means to connect with their fans and supporters. Unfortunately this high level of access means it is rare to go a week without hearing about an athlete who tweeted something inappropriate or wrote an inflammatory blog post. Whether it is players demanding trades or a star player spouting off homophobic slurs, social media has been a breeding ground for scandal.

Only a couple years ago few, if any, teams had social media policies in place. Now, most teams and even some leagues have social media policies in place to protect against errant Tweets or Facebook updates.

Obviously employees of your business do not have the reach and star power of a professional athlete but that does not mean that their use of social media is harmless. If a business like the NBA or NFL with deep pockets and resources has difficulty handling social media debacles imagine the trouble that can be caused at your company. This is why it is very important to have a social media policy in writing.

An effective social media policy should detail;

  • Who is responsible for managing the social media pages of the business
  • When employees can access their own social media
  • If employees can refer to their place of employment (fellow employees, business policies, projects, etc) on their social media pages
  • Penalties for violation of social media policies

Once your policy is in writing it will establish firm guidelines for what is expected of your employees as well as consequences for failure to abide. By creating this policy you will protect yourself against future headaches and decrease the chances of a damaging social media related reputation disaster.