Friday, 21 December 2012

My gift of Christmas fury... internet bile and the folly of social media “promotions”

I like to think of business, a lot of the time, as a Tamagotchi pet.

For those who don’t know what a Tamagotchi is, it was how my female friends at college passed time in between lessons. Tamagotchi are kind of a keyring Pokemon, but without seizure-inducing animation. They start as a sort of monochrome ink blob in the middle of the screen, but then over time as you press buttons to feed it, nurture it and clean up after it, a creature eventually “grows”.

Good metaphor for business, see?

But god help you if it fell into the hands my old college mate Darren. I call him ‘Darren’ for the purposes of this article, because his name was Darren.

Darren was asked to mind a Tamagotchi pet for one of our friends when she went into class. When she came back, had it been a real animal it probably would have been featured in one of those behind-the-scenes animal rights circus videos you see on YouTube. You can imagine the voiceover, whispered nervously as they scan the area with their iPhone:

“Just look at how this animal has been kept, it’s making my stomach turn. There’s excrement everywhere. It seems to have been fed continuously until its insides have burst - my god who would do that?”

Companies that put their brand in the full glare of social media, expecting to be ‘Liked’ without thinking are effectively handing their Tamagotchi to a 17-year-old Darren.

Let the hate begin...

You see I used to curse my Facebook friends with genuine bile when they ’Liked’ some corporate page put together by a huge business machine, making it pop up on your news feed. It’s bizarre, but ‘Likes’ have caught the imagination of some companies, as if clicking the button on Facebook amounts to you digging in your wallet. It really doesn’t.

But then I saw the result of their social media tomfoolery.

Take Amazon’s promoted post: “Thumbs up for Christmas gifts that let you choose what you want the most. You can send Amazon UK Christmas Gift Cards in greeting cards or gift boxes with FREE One-Day Delivery, or e-mail or print your own immediately.”

Now I’m not too sure what that really means - presumably if you “Like” that page you get free delivery. Maybe not, it’s not clear. What was clear was the hate thrown back at this post in its own comments section. Here are two of my favourites, unedited:

Neil Sharples hope amazon board have a rotten crhristmas,piss off and pay the same% in tax the average person on the street has to pay.


Pete Hodge Don#t use amazon until thery pay theoir corp[oration tax and stop fiddling the Briths people. *

I presume the Briths people are some sort of endangered intergalactic race, like in Avatar.

Anyway, there is lots more where that came from - out of 247 comments 23 were what I could deem as friendly to Amazon.

Then there were the mostly baffled responses to the Sony Smartwatch advert which shoved its impertinent mush into my timeline. The Sony Smartwatch is, it would seem, like having all your phone apps squashed into a small square box on your wrist, which connects to your phone anyway, rendering it pointless. Swimming amongst the hostile and confused comments - including one pointing to a poor review from The Gadget Show - the Sony social media types had clearly not grasped sarcasm. This became painfully apparent when one person said:

Lewis Phillips Do they just tell the time too~?

And they replied:

Sony Mobile GB Hey Lewis, yes! They certainly do!

But the king of the crop is Vodaphone, trying to advertise a SIM card. They had about two comments which I think were positive, and the rest - more than 200 - weren’t. Karma has to be paid back in full for making Yoda sell out with all the grace of a flea-bitten dancing bear. And it is paying, with Fails like:

Eva Chung HELLOOOOOOOOOOOOO???????? Why do I still have no signal. Carry on ignoring my tweets and post on here!!!!


Anthony Ashcroft Get off my news feed


To which the bots at Vodaphone HQ replied, like some bizarre mannequin voiced using a stuck record:

Vodafone UK Hi guys, Thanks for your comments. For anyone having network issues please could you post on the eForum using this template - ? You can use the 'Got a Question?' app at the top of this page to post your query .

Some of my favourites however are those people who just don’t get it. They interrupt the timeline, responding like disembodied ghost-voices on a crackly radio, as if talking to people long dead in another dimension. They just pop up in the comments, amid all the bile. Imagine all the fury being thrown at Vodaphone and then, suddenly, messages like this appear from nowhere:

Susan Baldock Merry Christmas Margaret have a great time x


Norman Brierley hello stranger xx


Keith Lodwick Hiya mate, when we having a beer?

None I hasten to add are talking to each other, just rattling lost voices speaking into the ether - in the middle of a social media campaign which is out of control, and nose diving straight into the ground.

Next time, perhaps it is best to take your Tamagotchi to class. Perhaps you could both learn something.

* Lawyers, before you even think about me reproducing "offensive comments" 1) the comments were on your page and in effect, therefore, made by yourselves under publishing law 2) They're virtually indecipherable anyway so grow up

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