Social media like Facebook, Flickr, and
Delicious has been around for a couple of years now and companies are
starting to dip a tentative toe into the water. While such courage
should be applauded, serious missteps have occurred that embarrass the
And it is not the courageous steps that have been embarrassing, but
the sheer level of assholery with which companies have partaken their
social media experiments. Because social media is all about sharing,
collaboration, and communication, it is little surprise that folks
expressed outrage at the heavy-handed or downright immoral dealings of
the companies outlined below.
In this post, I will list five of the deadly sins as outlined by Joseph Jaffe’s speech at the ANA’s Integrated Media Conference and then offer two additional sins of my own.
From Joseph Jaffe:
- Faking (Sprint): The phone company released ads in
which the CEO offered an email address, giving the opportunity for
communication. Instead, a corporate shill auto-responder emails back.
- Manipulating (Sony): The maker of the PSP created
a fake blog and attempted to manipulate the conversation. They ended up
garnering a deserved “golden poop” award.
- Controlling (T-Mobile): The phone company sent
cease and desist letters to a popular blog for using a color they claim
to have trademarked. The blogosphere revolted and T-mobile missed a
chance to meaningfully engage with its customers.
- Dominating (Target): A blogger was ignored by the
retail giant because they felt she didn’t have the clout of traditional
media outlets. After the blogger gained more and more attention, Target
claimed that their continued silence was based on a lack of adequate
- Avoiding (Starbucks): The coffee giant already
felt a squeeze from its consumer base, but avoided a fan’s desire to
visit every store was passed on. The only response to the fan was one
In these cases, the sin is not that the company was just stupid (though there’s no shortage of that). The sin is that they failed to engage at a pivotal moment with an active community that supported them with their checkbooks. They refused to join the conversation and felt the ramifications.
Here are my two nominations to round out the deadly sins of social media: