jump to navigation

should we be less #fail smug? March 31, 2010

Posted by nicholas gill in #fail, social media.

The start of this year has brought us some memorable social media fails: Eurostar, #cashgordon and Nestle to name but a few. And how we relish kicking them when they’re down. Because:
They don’t know how to do it.
They don’t get it.
They’re arrogant.
They’re douches.
We would NEVER do that.

If you want a wonderful description of #cashgordon then have a read of this from the good folk at Made by Many. I particularly like the point that yes, the interweb will try and punk you. Because it can.

But aren’t we also getting a bit up our own arses on this? What if one of our own campaigns suffered a monumental fuck up? We are fallible. Yes, hard to believe I know. But it could happen. Would we take so much joy in our own #fail?

In the case of Nestle, the real issue was seemingly missed – especially on Twitter – by our own blinkered views. Although I’m in no way a hippy – I flaunted Earth hour this year by watching a Top Gear repeat with the lights on, phones charging, dishwasher on and many appliances on stand by – the poor gorillas and forest destruction got side-lined by our own glee at Nestle fucking up a Facebook response. I’m aware Nestle also has a long running war with NGOs after many an issue so anything they did was bound to wreak havoc regardless.

But all this smugness has another impact. Clients who are still reticent about entering into the social space are typically concerned about reputation or the notion of control. And this is still the majority no matter our own rhetoric on social media being HUGE. The #fail culture does little to overcome these barriers and we will be left with only the brave forging ahead which inhibits the growth and maturation of this exciting and game-changing space.

Perhaps if we were less concerned with our own reputations we would be sharing more #success rather than focussing on the #fail?

Image source.

Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn |nicholas.r.gill@gmail.com



1. Sara Williams - March 31, 2010

Hi Nicholas, thanks picking up on this post, I think it’s an interesting discussion.

I take your point about smugness, and I’ll happily hold up my hand and admit to a little navel-gazing on this one. Just as it’s pretty damned human to want to punk and push the naughty boundaries, so is it equally human to want to be right and want to bask in that rightness for a while.

But you’ve got a real point — to what end this smugness, when really, the main thing we’re trying to do here is be part of a positive change in the way people interact, both with and outside of the social web?

Progress tends to slow considerably when the leaders scamper off and laugh at the stragglers. We should cite the fails, but we should also hold up the successes. We’re actually doing more of this at Made by Many — in fact, I posted on it yesterday.

Consider me complimented by the praise, but mildly chastened too! *slaps wrist and vows to do better*


nicholas gill - April 1, 2010

Bless you, Sara. I continue to enjoy your work at Made by Many.

2. Robin Grant, We Are Social - April 1, 2010

Eurostar social media #fail? In which universe did that happen in?


nicholas gill - April 1, 2010

Hi Robin, thanks for dropping by. Indeed, this is where the perception of the #fail culture has also perhaps distorted the reality as described in your post. We’re so wrapped up in #fail that we don’t see the reality. Hope life at We Are Social towers continues to eb good.

3. An Idea - April 1, 2010

#fail smugness serves to place a dividing line between those who do get it and those who don’t, this dichotomy then props up “those who get it” with a sense that they know & understand social media. I would guess this pretty common phenomenon (do you get this in other comms industries?) belies a very young and new industry that is still unsure of itself.

nicholas gill - April 1, 2010

You make a great point about it being the behaviour of a young industry where the dominant/early adopter elephants are at the water flapping their ears to ward off newcomers and establish authority. I think we should just remember we are all human and sometimes we fuck up.

4. 2011 – a hope rather than a prediction « [bluurb] stuff and things - January 12, 2011

[…] know the sort, ranting at everything and anything, shouting #fail!! at the earliest and slightest opportunity, talking about me, me and more me and indeed those […]

5. MO123 - May 29, 2011

Great read- Thanks for posting

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: