Loose cannons in a social space

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Social media has created a great opportunity for brands to interact with ad hoc groups of customers and fans.  When previously these groups were hard to locate and observe, now they are far more visible and easier to access than ever before.

A member of the marketing team for a certain football club recently decided to post on a forum set up and visited by the club’s fans. The fact that this person chose to interact with the club’s fans is not the issue. That this is what was posted is:

I laugh every week reading your forum. None of you actually have any idea about anything. You think you have all the answers and brilliant ideas bah bawww. You dont.Plus none of your ideas ever come to fruition… you talk about the club having carrots.Ahhh it must be a sad life, but whatever keeps you all busy till 2am without girlfriends…

Now I know you’ll all get defensive… but think about it, thats the typical stupid persons reaction

Why this person would choose to insult the fans is strange.  Why they would do it in such a public way is also curious.  Why they would choose to do it in a public space where what is said can easily be sent to a theoretically international audience is just bizarre.

I do not think having a social media policy would have prevented this from happening.  Nothing short of preventing all employees from accessing the internet ever would have helped.  The best solution is a cultural one.  It must be understood that customers and fans are regarded as having as much of a claim on the brand as those who are paid to work with it.  The opinions and feelings of the core market should not be disregarded and mocked, but accepted as what they are.  When the brand experience in an online space is created just as much by the fans as by the company, it is important to respect what they have to say and not to treat them as pariahs and as inconsequential.

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