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.

Magnani is an experience design and strategy firm that crafts transformational digital experiences to delight users and deliver sustainable competitive market advantages for our clients.


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