Reputation Roulette

By | February 8, 2011

During this year’s most watched ever Super Bowl the ads, the halftime show, and even the singing of the National Anthem came under instant and excessive real-time commentary in social media. What lessons can be learned here?

Opinion and instant feedback are the new norm

With the proliferation of social media, we no longer need a commentator to tell us what we just witnessed; we’d rather tell everyone else our impressions of what we just witnessed! We are a society which has been given a platform and we are eager to use it.

For the business owner:

How well are you monitoring the opinion wave of your organization? The speed, distance and momentum with which impressions and opinions can travel have never been greater. Reputation management has to be real-time, swift and with a plan in place. Viral messages travel in nanoseconds and that applies not only to your messages but to those messages that occur in response to your message.

Which brings us to Groupon…

Groupon’s ad about the plight of Tibetans was in very poor taste. The posts on social media went not only negative — they were angry. According to the CEO of Groupon, this was intended to be a self-parody campaign using a celebrity-PSA type format. Even with all of the negative feedback, as of today they intend on releasing the rest of the campaign ads supposedly all directed by Christopher Guest of Spinal Tap and Best in Show fame. (Wow, it surprised me that he would have his name attached to this.)

Whatever the intent, the concept was not properly executed. With social media, we live in a flock mentality, and once that flock turns away from your company it’s heck trying to get it to come back. Groupon has a damage control situation on its hands. I suggest they take the other ads of this campaign and burn them.

Anyone remember the disastrous movie by Tim Burton, When Mars Attacks? Oh, that was a bad parody.

For the business owner:

If we learn anything, it’s stay away from putting your reputation on the line with parody unless you know what you are doing. I think Capt. Owen Honors, who was relieved of duty from the Navy for his parody videos would agree with me on that one!

The Music(?) of the Super Bowl

Christine Aguilera put her reputation on center stage on the biggest stage and took an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. The lesson here is sometimes it’s more about what the customer wants than about yourself. In this case customers wanted a proper and respectful rendition (with all the words in the right place) of our National Anthem.

Reputation alert:

Carl Lewis and Rosanne Barr will forever be remembered for how they got booed for slaughtering the National Anthem. Notice how those clips came back after Aguilera’s mistakes? Her reputation will forever have this mark on it and be linked with the other clips for future reference.

The Black Eyed Peas also appeared not prepared for the reputation gamble inherent with being the halftime performers. Speakers know if your normal speech is one hour and you are only given 10 minutes, you need to start over and craft something different because you can’t capture the same feeling in that time frame. If you attempt a mashup of all your best lines without the proper story build-up you have a disaster on your hands. Isn’t that what we witnessed? Poor sound, poor special effects, and trying to cram everything they do in a concert into a 20-minute set.

Business owner alert:

Never try to be something you are not. Groupon put their reputation with social media customers in the hands of people who didn’t understand their market. Christine Aguilera put her reputation on the line and tried to make the National Anthem more about herself than about those she was singing for. The Black Eyed Peas put their reputation on the line when they tried to recreate a two-hour event in 20 minutes.

Every one of them forgot what they do best and tried to be something other than who they are. Look at your business: Where are you trying to be something you aren’t and losing your reputation in the process? Do what you do best and listen to your customers for how they want you to evolve while keeping your reputation intact.

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