After George Osborne delivered his budget on Wednesday, which included changes to bingo and beer tax, the Tories had to tread very carefully with their post-budget social media efforts and PR.
Politics, especially the budget, is a very sensitive subject to the general public, and one wrong move can create a huge backlash, and what better way for the public to vent their anger than on social media?
Well, that’s exactly what they did after Tory Chair Grant Shapps tweeted this bubbly image about beer and bingo duty shortly after the Budget was announced:
— Grant Shapps (@grantshapps) March 19, 2014
Needless to say, the tweet went down like a lead balloon, and it wasn’t long before the Twitterverse exploded with a mix of fury and satire.
The backlash to Grant Shapps’ tweet created the hashtag #torybingo, and a “Tory Bingo Poster Generator” app was created where people could create their own Tory posters, much to the delight of social media users, who used it to ridicule the original image and create hilarious alternatives like these:
— Ben Stokes (@RobotCanary) March 20, 2014
— David Schneider (@davidschneider) March 20, 2014
Oh, but the backlash didn’t end there. Tweeters started playing their own version of #torybingo on the social networking site, inventing alternatives to bingo call-outs ridiculing the Tories. Like this:
Foodbank queue, 22. #torybingo
— Wings Over Scotland (@WingsScotland) March 19, 2014
Screw the poor – 44 #torybingo
— Martin Shapland (@MShapland) March 19, 2014
— Maggie Alderson (@MaggieA) March 19, 2014
The whole situation was a disaster for the government, made even worse by the fact that, as of yesterday, the hashtag #torybingo was still getting a mention on Twitter every 12 seconds, and it had over 150,000 mentions in total.
Obviously, Labour jumped at the chance to mock the Conservatives, hijacking the hashtag to promote their own campaign:
— The Labour Party (@UKLabour) March 19, 2014
But what can we learn from the #ToryBingo debacle?
1) Risk Assess Your Content
News travels fast on social media, so you need to make sure that your content is watertight before broadcasting it on the internet – especially if you’re big, controversial organisation like a political party.
Ask a neutral person to look at the content before you post it, and ask them to feedback their initial reactions to it.
2) Respond, Respond, Respond
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not expecting the Tories to start replying to every single tweet that criticises them, it’s impossible! But they should have at least acknowledged the backlash with an apology for the image, perhaps saying it was “in bad taste”.
Never ignore your audience, because they’re the people that can make or break your organisation.
3) Don’t Give Competitors Ammunition
Politics is a strange old world. It’s extremely cut-throat and the opposition party will jump on any opportunity to make fools out of their rivals, no matter how petty or innocuous things may seem.
When using social media, think about the worst thing your competitor could say about what you’re doing, and make sure you’re strategy is that good that they’ll look silly even trying to ridicule you!
So there we go, a big fat fail from the Tories, and some tips on how to avoid a similar pitfall!
What do you think of #torybingo-gate? An overreaction from the general public or a massive social media fail from the Conservatives?
As always, let me know in the comments below or on Twitter @BubbleJobs! :)