When Good Social Media Intentions Go Bad

I love the Bloggess. Along the lines of a David Sedaris, but with more swearing and taxidermy, I regularly appreciate her ironic perspectives on life. After all, life is absurd, so why fight it? Let’s all have a good laugh. Right now she’s doing a book tour and apparently staying in a horrid hotel, so her idea was to validate her experience by asking her hundreds of thousands of followers to tweet their worst hospitality experience with the hashtag #worsthotelever. Pretty immediately the topic started trending on twitter, but with one unfortunate consequence: Hilton hotels was positioned as the sponsored tweet for the hashtag. Apparently for about four hours. Which of course, did not go unnoticed, as evidenced here:

So, what can we learn from this?

  1. Social media continues to evolve; blind alleys and pitfalls exist everywhere, which means you should expect it and more importantly, be prepared to handle it. A sense of humor and patience helps.
  2. Despite the digital nature of social media, we must never forget that it’s content generated by people. Who are online, 24/7/365. So should your social media monitors. Yes, twitter volumes decline over the weekend, but that also means it’s easier to generate trends among the volume. Social media isn’t just a full-time job – it’s a lifestyle.
  3. Strong brands are heartier than bad PR. Yes, you might immediately think as a hotel chain it’s bad to be associated with stories of the worst hotels ever. But I would counter that with all the attention, Hilton got a ton of unplanned/unpaid exposure to a somewhat innocuous tweet and in the long run, their brand is strong enough to take it.