One of the biggest benefits of social media is the way the medium can help you get in front of people you’d never normally reach. From cost savings (financial) to the sharing between friends, social media offers opportunities like never before.
Of course, like anything that gives you a bigger audience – or the potential for one – there’s always the danger that the buzz or visibility you receive won’t always be the kind you’re after. For every good example, you get a bad one.
The Good Social Media Buzz
Christina is a little girl from Arkansas, with severe medical issues. She recently had skull/brain surgery and is on treatment for the pain. To help her recover, she visited Park Lane Mall, where there is a Build-a-Bear store (that makes personalized teddy bears).
Christina’s mom didn’t have the money for the bear then, but chatted with the manager of Build-a-Bear about Christina’s story. She then took Christina over to look at the Lego store across the mall.
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The manage and his colleague decided to make a bear anyways for Christina, on their own time, and made it their and then. Christina named the bear Jenny, after someone she knows. The Lego store manager also gave Christina some Lego toys.
Two stores, three kind-hearted people, and one happy little girl that could forget her pain for a while. Kudos, Build-a-Bear and Lego.
The Bad Social Media Buzz
I’m a huge fan of the UFC, or Ultimate Fighting Championship. As someone that’s trained in martial arts, I respect the strategy, discipline and bravery that these fighters bring to the ring each time they fight.
As a business, the UFC has also shown that when it comes to building a profile of a sport that has as many opponents as proponents, it’s extremely savvy, in no small part due to the business skills of UFC President Dana White.
Which made his decision to portray a homeless man in a skit for Fox NFL Sunday a poor one. He may have been trying to be humorous and show what can happen on the way to the Octagon if fighters aren’t successful, but the stereotype that all homeless people drink booze instead of eating food wasn’t a smart move.
But then, White doesn’t seem to care. Despite a backlash starting on Facebook and Twitter, White was unrepentant and lashed out at his critics, calling them pussies and whiners. His views were supported by various UFC fans.
Perception and Reality
When you see examples like this and the reactions of those watching these stories unfold – complete positive sentiment for Christina’s story and vitriol and support in apparent equal measure for Dana White – it highlights how quickly something can spread on these channels.
It might be said that White’s example won’t hurt the UFC in the long run, since there were several views supporting his skit. His multi-million dollar empire can probably sail over it too (although his tweets and Facebook update seem to have been removed).
As a typical business, though, could your brand handle the backlash of a (potentially) offensive approach to getting your name out there?
Wouldn’t it be better to go after the positive instead, and be a Build-a-Bear or Lego story? Your choice.