In a recent Harvard Business Review Press blog on social media “Kenneth Cole’s social media lesson”, Alexandra Samuel relates the story of a marketer placing a “hash tag” #Cairo on a twitter message about the spring line. The Caution is a valuable one because she talks about something that’s very important and not often noted, for understandable reasons.
For the purpose of leveling the playing field and including anyone who has not yet started using Twitter, the hash tag is a way of labeling a comment so that it fits into a theme. As Alexandra Samuel points out.
Marketers need to recognize that a social media presence is not a billboard: it’s not an empty space that you can buy and slap your message on. When you engage in a social media campaign, you’re joining a conversation — or in Cole’s case, crashing a party to which you have not been invited.
She offers some useful analogies,
Imagine walking into a cocktail party, pushing yourself into a knot of people talking about their Christmas plans, and abruptly changing the subject to SUV models. Or more accurately, imagine walking into an AA meeting, and interrupting someone’s recovery story with an announcement about your upcoming sofa sale. Or worse yet, imagine joining the AA group, spending three months pretending to be an alcoholic, and then pitching the rest of your group on your Amway products. Classy, right?
But in a boundaryless world you almost have to feel sorry for those who blunder over the line. After all when does the personal versus professional versus citizen persona begin and end?
If the tweet is coming from someone waiting in a busy line at the local Whole Foods its going to appear to be just the same as if it came from someone sitting at a desk or in a Congressional hearing. So of course people blunder. Who wouldn’t?
And there is William Hurt’s great line in Broadcast News when he confronts Holly Hunter in the Baltimore Airport while she is destroying their planned trip to the Caribbean and their relationship over his ethical lapse. Where is line he demands? “they keep moving the sucker.”
Not that Kenneth Cole should not have known. But its an interesting road sign on our current path.