This is Exactly Why Brands Hate Social Media

by Mack Collier

PaceTweetSo over the Thanksgiving weekend there were two big ‘stories’ being covered by all the ‘entertainment’ blogs and bouncing around Twitter.  The first was where a guy got on a plane and claimed to have gotten in a ‘feud’ with another passenger.  He detailed how she was mean and inconsiderate, then proceeded to bully her with a series of notes that he took pictures of and said he sent her.  Then later it was ‘revealed’ that the woman actually had cancer, and that the guy had made her miss her connecting flight, and Thanksgiving dinner, which might very well be her last.

Then later it was also ‘revealed’ that the guy made the whole story up.  Still with me?

A day or two later, a supposed comedian got into a Twitter ‘war’ with what we were led to believe was Pace Picante’s Twitter account.  This led to a series of embarrassing DMs from the brand, a few employees getting ‘fired’, then the brand shutting down its Twitter account.

Then the revelation that no, wait, it wasn’t Pace Picante at all, it was another unknown comedian that was ‘pranking’ the first one.

We all must have been bored as shit last weekend.

Unfortunately, the popularity of Twitter has led to some people simply creating drama to draw attention to themselves (and by extension, get them bunches of followers).  Double-unfortunately, these antics are always prime to get coverage on hundreds of blogs that are desperate to hit their 10-a-day quota for new posts.

Now we’re upping the game with complete hoaxes.  Or hoaxes within hoaxes, as we saw when one guy’s hoax about an inconsiderate passenger took an unexpected turn when she ‘got’ cancer.  Which led to the guy mocking the people that followed him on Twitter for basically believing she had cancer without checking.

Elan tweetThese stunts are exactly why brands are scared to death of using social media.  Thanks to a couple of guys trying to make a name for themselves, there are now literally thousands of blog posts and articles out there claiming that Pace Picante is totally clueless when it comes to Twitter.  When the reality (apparently) is that they had nothing to do with this.  Will all these bloggers that wrote a quick 200-word post on how ‘clueless’ Pace was, update their posts and clarify that it was all a hoax?  A few will, but most won’t.

But the damage is pretty much done for Pace-Picante.  We always talk about how brands need to be ‘more human’.  Sometimes we ‘humans’ do too.


{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Jerome Pineau December 3, 2013 at 9:54 am

I don’t see brands being scared to death anymore really. More like the contrary, if anything, a bunch of them tend to jump into the forray a bit too fast and without the proper safety mechanisms in place.


Stephen Denny December 3, 2013 at 11:25 am

I doubt Pace will lose a single bottle of sales from all of this, so hopefully brands will give a quick {pffft} and move on with more important things. Any time a brand is visible and even remotely interactive in the market, there’s the possibility of “social militancy” – of people stridently proclaiming the brand to be “bad” for whatever reason – and having that person’s “followers,” however numerous or not they be, pick up on it. Motrin comes to mind. It’s the brand’s job to decide what defines a real problem and what defines a few bomb-throwers making noise and act accordingly.

“Accordingly,” in this definition, is usually to ignore the militants and move on with their day.


StuartB December 3, 2013 at 12:54 pm

Nice try, Sharon.


Susan December 3, 2013 at 1:44 pm

Hi Mack,
You just reminded me of a quote my mother actually taught me, “a little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing.” Have you noticed from emails to tweets people are in a hurry to jump to conclusions, then off to the races to jump out there with absurd statements and RT’s? I purport this behavior began with the emergence of “spin” training.The truth doesn’t matter, people are so cynical the damage is done because they don’t know what or who to believe. If one’s claim to fame is from making false statements what in the world does that say about them?

I do agree with you Mack, I think many companies are scared to death of social media. They don’t understand it, and think if they ignore it perhaps it will go away. Or maybe they are behaving more like an ostrich with their head in the sand.

And some this behavior can be attributed to the fact that some high level upper management positions still have assistants that turn on their computers and write their emails. I actually had a “boss” that did read her email but usually only read the visible part of the email then would react to it. This made for some interesting dialog. :)


Mack Collier December 3, 2013 at 2:24 pm

Hi Susan. We are so quick to give coverage to such ‘episodes’ that people are going out of their way to create drama. You can have an actor or comedian or musician that’s looking to make a name for themselves and a stunt like this can gain them a ton of exposure quickly.

I guess in many ways this is a sign that we get the content we deserve.


infocera December 4, 2013 at 11:08 am

All brands are not hate social media some brands like it.


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