Shot in the foot by Cupid’s arrow – a cautionary tale of Social Media marketing

It seems that the topic of Social Media is never far from the headlines of the business press. From Twitter to YouTube, debate rages back and forth amongst communications professionals as to the worth – or otherwise – of these sites as valid business communication channels.

Some of the more Ludditic (if there’s such a word) persuasion dismiss it all as a passing fad; others claim with equally unbridled passion that Twitter et al represents a new era of engagement and hyper-responsive communications.

Now – interestingly – a new dynamic has entered the debate in the shape of one Trent Reznor, singer with legendary industrial rock band Nine Inch Nails. Reznor, formerly an enthusiastic Tweeter and Internet music pioneer, has reportedly closed his Twitter account after his candid, heart-warming posts prompted negative reactions from some of his 600,000 followers.

Writing on Japan Inc, Michael Condon suggests this is an event of far greater significance than it may first appear.

Reznor’s departure from Twitter is interesting for two reasons. Firstly, Reznor is one of the more Web-savvy, forward thinking members of the music industry out there. It should be noted that Reznor was one of the first major artists to take advantage of changing distribution and promotional systems with the Nine Inch Nails release of "Ghosts I IV."  Reznor himself has been a prolific "tweeter" with, as mentioned before, over 600,000

Michael’s second, and most interesting conjecture is that even for die-hard fans of blogging and Social Media, there is a point where “engagement” and interaction becomes a bit too real. Specifically, when the candid reality of Tweeting starts to diverge from the perceived reality of the “brand”, it can only lead to trouble, as Reznor has apparently discovered to his cost.

It seems, among other things, a big problem was that Reznor was, well, in love. HERE are some of the tweets that infuriated angsty fans:
Reznor: "Now that I’m in love and gone all soft on you, can anyone recommend any romantic comedies? Got a weird urge."


Reznor: "I am missing someone. Boo hoo."


Reznor: "Wait – I’m in love and getting married! I’d give you all free tickets if I could. (hugs)"

All sweet and innocent, until you remember that these utterances come from the creator of albums such as "Pretty Hate Machine", "Broken" and "The Downward Spiral." And it seems this romantic epiphany has not gone down well with the band’s more moribund fans.

There were proclamations of "selling out," "going soft" and worlds being turned "upside down."
And so, in the end, Reznor got sick of it all and pulled the plug on his Twitter feed.

For some celebrities – and increasing numbers of corporate marketeers – Twitter is regarded merely as a marketing tool. Yet it was never intended as such. It was always supposed to be much more personal than that. Ironically, in using it as it was originally intended, Reznor appears to have unwittingly undone the marketing work of many years and many record company dollars – at least in the eyes of some fans.

And therein lies a sobering lesson for those considering Social Media as part of their marketing mix. Twitter feeds and Facebook pages might be fine in some circumstances, but not all, and they need to managed with particular care: Social Media is far from being the silver bullet of marketing; and it’s all too easy to get hit by those ricochets. 

You can read the original post on Creative Deconstruction here


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