from the oops dept
There's an old saying in the legal industry that's supposedly hammered into law school students: never ask a question to which you don't already know the answer. That idiom can probably also be applied to corporations and their forays into social media: never start an online campaign or contest unless you know what the reaction of your audience is going to be. And, if a Mike Masnick can earn fame on the coinage of a term like "the Streisand Effect", then perhaps I too can find myself a Wikipedia mention by coining what happened in the following story as "the Redskin Botch."
Whatever you think of the debate over the name of the Washinton NFL team, let's put that aside for the moment and focus on the complete failure of whoever is managing the Redskins' Twitter account to anticipate the reaction to their latest call to arms. Like any mildly amusing story, it all starts with Harry Reid, who whipped up fifty senators to sign a letter to the NFL stating that it was time the Washington team changed its name. In response, the team's Twitter account put out the call for fans to tweet Reid explaining why the team's name apparently means so much to them, for some reason.
Tweet @SenatorReid to show your #RedskinsPride and tell him what the team means to you. — Washington Redskins (@Redskins) May 29, 2014The tweet, the call, and the hashtag got more attention that the team could have hoped for, and caused a larger backlash than the team could have feared. Fans of the team or not, the response was the exact opposite of the team's intention, with the overwhelming majority of respondents favoring the name change and offering their support to Reid, not the team. Some wonderfull highlights include:
#RacialSlurPride RT @Redskins: Tweet @SenatorReid to show your #RedskinsPride and tell him what the team means to you. — Jamil Smith (@JamilSmith) May 29, 2014As the post notes, even fans of the team reacted similarly, indicating that the last example I offered is perhaps the entire point. A failure to understand what reaction you're going to get when you start a social media campaign is the Redskins Botch. And the failure wasn't lost on the intended target, with Reid's office commenting:
Hey @Redskins and @HarryReid! To me #redskinspride is about normalizing overt racism in the 21st century. Did I do this right @Redskins ? — Bart Johnston (@MBJohnston12) May 29, 2014
#RedskinsPride because keeping the tshirt in my closet accurate is much more important than whole races of people — bd (@IHatebd) May 29, 2014
A really poor grasp of social media marketing? RT @Redskins: Tweet @SenatorReid to show #RedskinsPride & tell him what the team means to you — Hugh C. McBride (@hughcmcbride) May 29, 2014
"The Skins tried to engage folks, and it has failed miserably," Faiz Shakir, Reid's digital director, told us. In the minutes after the Skins' tweet, Shakir said "we haven't found more than one or two that are actually supportive."A wonderful failure all around and it couldn't have happened to better people, as far as I'm concerned.