So a local news station thought they’d show how down they are with those kids tweeting and a facebooking, but they ran into a slight glitch.
A trio of of television anchors in Mobile, Ala. have learned the hard way that Twitter and electronic billboards don’t mix very well.
A reader e-mailed me the unintentionally humorous photo above of a billboard for WPMI-TV.
Next to the image of three WPMI anchors is a “right now on Twitter” screen. Giving drivers updates on Twitter in real time as they pass by the billboard is pretty cool, right? Well, it is, unless the update says “3 Accused of Gang Rape in Monroeville.”
That Tweet was posted on Wednesday afternoon and a thrifty driver grabbed a photo of the unfortunate side-by-side.
(via Epic billboard fail.)
This is definitely funny. I’m sure some shouting was done and more than a few people at the station were embarrassed, but what is the real consequence after the “meme” passes? Has the news station lost their reputation? Will they never be trusted again to deliver the news? Are they going off the air!? Or, will everyone have a laugh, they’ll add another layer of moderation to similar marketing products, and a ton of people who had never heard of WPMI-TV will tune in if they ever make it to Mobile, Alabama. Oh, and people like me have already checked out their website — upping their traffic stats for the month. Hello, advertisers!
Allison Fine wrote a post recently called, “Branding is about trust not control.” I relate all to well to her points about how terrified senior management at nonprofits are about their brand being diluted or destroyed if they open up the social media floodgates.
The struggle is about the intersection of control and trust that the leadership of too many nonprofit organizations are struggling with right now. Here’s the argument. Staffers and volunteers on social media channels like Facebook cannot be counted on to talk about our organization in a way that won’t do harm to the perception by people that we are trustworthy and reliable and valuable. And the people out there can’t be trusted to participate in these conversations in civil, constructive ways.
(via A Fine Blog)
As Allison points out in the blog, my first argument with such nonprofits is, “Well, hire people you trust.” Are they really hiring people they cannot trust to tweet without several levels of sign off?
Next I ask: What’s the worst case scenario? Often, what they are really worried about is ruffling feathers internally. The issues often have little to do with the outward brand, but the inward turf wars that waste time and energy at so many large nonprofits. However, even a public worst case would do minimal damage in most instances. The bottom line is that there needs to be a shift where those opposing social media projects must prove why it will undo the brand’s value, not the other way around. New Media teams that are always on the defensive will always be behind the curve and far less valuable to their organization.
As we see in the Billboard FAIL, the biggest fear is that supporters will say something that gets the nonprofit in hot water. This rarely happens. What is most likely to happen is supporters raise some good points, and some bad. Some will challenge the organization’s policy stance, and this is the value of social media…Conversation. Social media used right is a conversation tool. It gives a nonprofit thousands of teachable moments they wouldn’t have otherwise. You can’t start the conversation with censorship.
Open the gates and let your supporters in. There may be a few landmines along the way, but you can always look to the great Billboard FAIL of ’09 and say, “It could be worse.” Most likely, it won’t ever be that bad at all. In fact, your organization may soon find your supporters trusting something far more valuable than your brand — you’re people. Conversations with people instead of brands, what a novel concept for Not-for-Profit organizations.