More on death

Unlike Terry Pratchett's case, in which Twitter gave an author dignity on his way out, when it comes to brands and famous deaths it's often best just to keep quiet rather than try to join in the conversation. For example, with Prince's death yesterday:

These two are both awful examples of a brand trying to do soemthing heartfelt, but messing it up because they're trying to shoehorn their brand into the conversation - neither Cheerios nor 3M are immediately linkable in the minds of the audience to the tiny rockstar, and so should probably have stayed quiet on the mourning front.

I've got a lot more sympathy for this one - this is obviously a well-meaning Customer Service person, who's not really versed in the ways to approach something like this, and wanting to express their sadness as well as make their little Q&A feed seem a little more relevant.

And this just made me laugh. Perfectly on-brand for Pornhub, and a, erm, touching tribute.

The key here isn't humour - it's about knowing your audience, and about treating the death of a celebrity with the respect it requires. For most brands, that means staying the fuck away. No-one notices when a brand DOESN'T comment on something, but everyone will if it doesn't have the intended effect. Remember that a brand is selling things, and no-one wants to get advertising shoved in their face at a funeral. As for the PornHub one, well... No-one wants to think about death while accessing their site, so humour is really the best way for them to go. But odds are your brand isn't PornHub (if it is, please get in touch regarding any job opportunities).

Death and Social Media

Not always the best of bedfellows, there are occasions when The Socials can give the death of the author an air of dignity.


It helps, of course, to have enough warning to write your last tweets in advance.

A graceful end to probably the most influential writer of my early life; I didn't get on with Tolkein or anything too serious, so Terry Pratchett's wit, imagination, and blend of silly fun and good solid life lessons were a pretty big influence on my life.

He wrote brilliantly, never took himself too seriously and inspired millions of young readers, myself happily and enthusiastically included. And now he's gone.

Vlogger does a poo, tweets for toilet paper

A #TweetFromTheSeat is nothing new, but this one caused a bit of a stir.  (Not literally. That's gross.)

When VLogger Adam Greenwood answered a call of nature on a ride with Virgin Trains, he encountered a nightmare we all hope to avoid: No toilet paper. Stuck for ideas, he tweeted the train company who, miraculously, were able to send some some from the train crew with supplies.

So? You might be thinking, Why should I care?

This post seems like a nothing more than a fun conversation that helped a guy out. And it is. But it led to:

  • a very satisfied customer,
  • highlighted how quickly their Social team responds to tweets, and 
  • generated a lot of positive exposure for the brand.

That's not bad for a total of two tweets each.

Let's break each of those points down:

A very satisfied customer - This should be obvious, and hopefully the response from Virgin would have been the same if her weren't a key influencer on Twitter (more on which later). Socials offer a great way for a brand to offer a secondary and very personal level of satisfaction (after the good or services they provide, obviously) to customers who bother to engage.

Quick response from the Social team - the timestamps on the tweets say that there was only a 2-minute delay between Adam's original tweet and a response from Virgin. That's impressively fast. Virgin's responses tend to be within half an hour of receiving a tweet, but still. Explanations? Ok then.

  1. Just efficient Socialing - The team was entirely up to date on responding to queries and so could address the issue immediately.
  2. Flagging: Their social listening software saw this individual as a key influencer due to his klout score, or follower count or something and flagged it for immediate attention when it arrived.
  3. It was all staged, and was just for Virgin Trains to seem cool and ultra-responsive. (So cynical!)

If it were 3, he'd have made a video about it. He's a vlogger, after all. I want it to be 1 and that the response would have been exactly the same if he weren't an Influencer, but I think there might be an element of 2 in there, too. 

Generated positive exposure - It would have been easy for Virgin Trains to ignore this tweet. To have consigned it to the same trashpile that all of the 'OMG,@VirginTrains ARE SHIT. I'D RATHER WALK' messages land on would have been slightly quicker, and justifiable in that it's not a request for information about a Virgin Trains service, or a dispute needing resolution, which are the primary functions of their Twitter stream. There would have been no negative consequences to that course of action. Yet they didn't, and by doing something in response to the tweet, garnered a huge amount of positive exposure. And that, I think, is the moral here: 

Social offers brands the opportunity to go above and beyond for their customers. You don't have to, and often it's impractical, or absurd, or dangerous. But when they do, it tends to turn out pretty well.

Donald Trump gets Twitter-Pranked

He (or, more likely, some PR intern) RT’d this to his 2.7 Million-strong twitter following:

And yup, the internet went crazy over it. 

Just goes to show, always do a quick reverse image search before RTing something.

.In fact, always do your homework before sharing anything. In most instances it takes less than a minute and can save you some serious egg-on-face time.

Still not as embarrassing as his ‘hair’, however.

(originally posted 29th September 2014)