With the Olympics recently behind us, an American presidential election nearly upon us, active protest movements, and celebrity news galore, it seems you can't really open your favorite social channel without confronting an angry mob kissing each other in front of a Chick-Fil-A store, griping about tape-delayed coverage from NBC, or holding signs that say "Team Katie."
And of course, with all of these memes comes the follow-on discussion about what the "appropriate" view should be of social media and the ease by which we share content. Is social sharing really a predictive reflection of us that represents the common zeitgeist at any moment in time? Or is it, rather, a fueled fire that is only deemed important by people after influential media covers it?
This latter point is one that is made by Nobel Prize-winning scholar Daniel Kahneman. In his book "Thinking, Fast and Slow," he explains that "people tend to assess the relative importance of issues by the ease with which they are retrieved from memory -- and this is largely determined by the extent of coverage in the media."
So, with that mind, if a brand has a "social media accident" -- like what recently happened with McDonald's and its #McDStories campaign -- is it truly a mistake we can learn from? Or, are these simply unavoidable accidents that will happen to every brand that dares to scale a social strategy? In short, was the McDonald's campaign really a failure -- or is it only one because so many people said it was? And, beyond the accidents, what are the true "abuses" made by a brand on any social network?
Let's first consider the current social landscape for brands.