Summer of Stories: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly – Social Media Shenanigans

Where were you when…
September 9, 2011
#MediaMonday – Tishin Donkersley
September 12, 2011
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Labor Day has come and gone, and for many, it is the symbolic end to summer. School is back in session, white pants are put in storage and pool floaties are deflated. While summer may officially end on Sept. 23 - and here in Phoenix it’s still 110 degrees - it is time for us to look forward to fall. But before we do that, let’s recap what we learned this summer. No, not through our fabulous and informational blog posts of months past (although I highly recommend you skim our archives), but what we learned from this summer’s biggest PR stories, scandals and stunts.

In our fourth and final part of the Summer of Stories series, we take a look at what social media shenanigans occurred and why we should care.


7. Launch of Google+ and how it changed Facebook

Facebook beware – this summer the most hyped, exclusive, geek-attracting social network was launched and many dubbed it The Facebook Killer. In reality, Google+, Google’s third attempt at social networking, cause a lot of ballyhoo with little content to back it up. Beta users were allowed in by invite only, and those first on G+ were considered some of the most distinguished names in social media (such as Chris Brogan, Jason Falls and Jay Baer). So how I got mine the first week, I do not know. But damn, was I proud.

But the weeks following the launch of Google+ were anticlimactic. More and more people joined, but few did anything to engage or connect. Those who did use the platform were mostly talking about how great it is to be on G+, regardless of any legitimate reason. Sure, new and exciting features like circles and hangouts piqued our interests, but what was supposed to be The Facebook Killer wasn’t exactly having Zuckerberg shaking in his hoodie.

However, Google+ did set the bar higher for Facebook and soon updates and changes started appearing all over our news feeds and profiles. Taking cue from G+’s “revolutionary” new concepts, Facebook created easier sharing controls and fancier photo interfaces.

So while it is still possible for G+ to come the social media giant in the next few years, right now it is leading by example, not by users.

What we learned: Embrace change, but be patient.


8.London Riots

Although this story was not generated by public relations folks, it certainly shows the power of our tools. It is also another example of current events PR folks should NOT base a pitch around.

Similar to the Egyptian revolution of the spring, Britain’s “lost generation”, angered by social issues from police procedures, economic inequality and high rates of youth unemployment, turned to Twitter to spark massive public uproar, resulting in looting, rioting and millions in property damage. Cars and buildings were burned, general mass chaos ensured and five lives were lost. Flash mobs were no longer being associated with large-scale dance numbers, but with actual mobs with mob mentality. Their ability to successfully plan riots – which, by definition is wild disorder – has had many government authority figures questioning if there should be stricter regulations regarding censorship during times of public outrage.

Again, similar to the Egyptian revolution of the spring, PR reps tried to tie in the riots into their clients’ pitches, which often came off as insensitive or ignorant. INC could have learned from Kenneth Cole, who could have learned from these guys.

What we learned: If you Tweet it, they will come, especially when involving pent-up youth. And never, ever use any sort of controversy to leverage your company’s an unrelated cause.


So there we have it. The good, the bad and the ugly stories that kept us entertained this summer. Was your favorite news-maker on the list? Let us know of other influential happenings we missed in the comments below.


See also:

Part I: Summer of Stories: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly – The Big Wigs

Part II: Summer of Stories: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly – Private Matters

PART III: Summer of Stories: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly – Show Me the Money





Stephanie Lough
Stephanie Lough
A former HMA Public Relations employee.

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