Albert Qian
November 7, 2014

Curatti Social Media Recap 2014: #7 – The Year Content Became Impersonal

Curatti 2014 Social Media Recap: #7

We’re in the final quarter of 2014, which means there are less than 90 days until the New Year and the celebration of a new year on its way. 2014 has been yet another banner year for social media, digital marketing, and the era of curation as the companies surrounding the trend make waves. In a 10 article series, we are counting down the events of the year and looking at how each of these events presents a key and critical takeaway for what matters in marketing, and more. In the 4th article of our countdown, we look at how “too soon” made its way to the forefront this year. 

On the morning of August 11th, 2014, the late, great, Oscar-winning actor and beloved comedian Robin Williams took his own life. Social media instantly blew up with tributes, mentions, and throwbacks to Williams’ early career, such as his start on Mork & Mindy. It was as if social media had taken on a collective personality in mourning someone so many had come to love and enjoy on the movie screen, from his eccentricities in Mrs. Doubtfire, to the promotion of art in Dead Poets Society, to the suddenly apt What Dreams May Come.

The mourning however, was not to last long. Posts on everything from career transitioning to how the New York Daily News wanted to leverage SEO hit the airwaves in an effort to try and get web traffic for folks looking for a community to share their feelings. In attempting to make a buck off the death of an entertainment legend, publishers and marketers alike found themselves in the midst of hot water as well as the beginnings of a conversation no one knew was coming.

The Personality of the Content Era

ALBERT2Publishing content in an untimely manner has become an understood and oft-repeated error in the social media era. An Arlington, Virginia yoga studio for example was criticized for its 9/11 promotion this year where they offered a sale on products, offending a wide variety of people who thought the business tactic was tactless. In recent years, other social media users and businesses have also done similar things, one notable incident being Kenneth Cole’s tweet about his Cairo collection while the Egyptian capital of the same name was protesting during the Arab Spring protests. While one could theoretically argue that there is no such thing as bad publicity, there is definitely no argument when it comes to being tactful or respectful: One is either being respectful, or skirting it completely.

But while past content faux pas seemed to get their forgiveness from online readers, the death of Robin Williams seemed to strike a different chord. Content marketers especially have taken disgust when others post similar types of content — and with recent events such as the Ebola outbreak present on the minds of Americans, one has to wonder. Marketing Director Sean McGinnis did:

With many businesses now looking to content as a main driver of business interest, still being able to be in touch while disseminating matters too. ROI is still key, but straying away from being questionable is no doubt something that helps the bottom line as well. End users want to see content that delivers value, and with the noise becoming louder by the second, it’s important that value be at the top of every marketer’s checklist.

The Curatti Takeaway

We must remember that social media resembles the kindergarten playground we once roamed in elementary school. Playing nicely with others was a key indicator of how much you were liked by peers, and now in the digital world the situation is not all that much different. As business owners we must have our fingers on the pulse of current events and be mindful of what’s going on at any given moment since incorrect placement of messaging could result in amplified backlash that reaches to all corners of the web. As a good rule of thumb, remember:
  • If it seems inappropriate to post, it likely is.
  • If you wouldn’t want your mother or father to see it, don’t post.
  • If the topic is delicate and you want to include a revenue call to action, it’s probably not a good idea either.

As we hit 2015, expect the backlash against content that misses the mark to hit even harder. As stated earlier, the noise of content is only getting louder. Standing out in the wrong way might get the presses rolling, but as in any case with any business, presses must roll for the right reasons, not the wrong ones.