Dear Diary: Mandela is dead and Lionel Bastos is (apparently) stupid

Children’s playgrounds are wondrous façades, filled with more subtext and surprise than an episode of Twin Peaks. What looks like a voluntarily good time hides undercurrents of malice, friend-stealing and cold-shouldering. No wonder we’re so naturally adept at social media.

This used to be my playground 

If you say something on Twitter that doesn’t sit perfectly with another’s own Weltanschauung, you’re a cretin. Some may even go as far as to say a troll. But are you? With its 232 million active users, Twitter is just digital graffiti; a ‘wall’ to express every thought upon as if the world had been dying to know it all along. But here’s the clincher: it’s public, so every tweet must be considered an invitation for dialogue. You may not intend it as so, but you tweeted it, so you must accept it as so.

Context 

Today was one that brought earnest heartbreak to 49 million people (and then some!). Last night, our venerated Captain, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela – the closest thing to proof of God’s existence if ever there was – died. And you know what? It feels like the whole country is still holding its breath… The statements and condolence-commiserations on news and social media sites have been respectfully regal, even in their numbness… And numb we are. Still, I saw, heard, felt and read such untainted honesty in people’s reactions to this deeply moving moment in history, and honesty should never have to be questioned… except when it looks like this:

Lionel 5FM

What a pity that such gravity should invite such naïve perspective. Contrary to your affront Lionel, they didn’t fly a voice over artist out from Los Angeles just to piss you off. 5FM is a brand. The American voice over guy has been doing their links for years and, as a brand, he is part of its identity. So on a day of mourning and ironic solidarity, when we should be embracing the opportunity to come together one last time for the man who set it in motion for us to begin with, you chose to bleat about that. Did it add any value to the gentle conversations around Nelson Mandela’s death? No.

wtf is that? 

That is a troublemaker, because here’s the thing Dory: when you have thousands of followers, you hold the potential to set other unthinking people off on some remarkably pointless albeit flammable crusade (anyone remember the Woolworths won’t hire white staff debacle?).

So in the spirit of dialogue, I pointed out:

Screen Shot 2013-12-06 at 11.06.45 PM

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On the same night that Madiba passed away, Paris had lit up the Eiffel tower in the South African flag’s colours, yet buildings here today were still flying the flag at full mast. That’s disrespect to me. How 5FM pre-promo’s upcoming content is not.

Sure, my incredulosity may seem unbalanced. My only excuse is this bottomless frustration I have with voluntarily stupid people. This is because they are a) stupid and / or b) voluntarily stupid. After some lamaze, I deduced that Lionel was just stupid thin on content, but when prompted with my theory, he declined to comment. And by declined to comment, I mean passive-aggressively continued to slag me off in a one-way convo with without directing any of it at me.

Screen Shot 2013-12-06 at 11.06.54 PMWimp

Fierce.

Can't be bothered

Ergo… I too am giving unnecessary airtime to someone who openly thinks the same of me as I now do of him.

But wait … because here’s the real meaty stuff: People who like to use the word ‘cretin’? Depends on how old you are. I believe it was super popular back when people watched Twin Peaks, 5FM was still called Radio 5 and used, no doubt, a different voice over guy. Urban Dictionary defines ‘cretin’ as a brainless person who makes no sense, except of course to other cretins. A right pair our Lionel and I would be. Oh the fun we’d have meeting for a spot of dinner and world-problem-solving! I bet a chinwag with Lionel would include plenty “…no offence, but…” sentence starters, “…needless to say…” conjunctions and “…at the end of the day…” summations.

Lekker.

No offence Lionel, but I say do what all little girls do and get a diary for those poignant proclamations. With its little lock and key, no cretin shall upset your panty twist again.

And that’s the end of mine.

Nelson-Mandela

Hamba Kahle Tata Madiba.

© Dylan Balkind

Social media making you sick?

Originally written for and published on BizCommunity.com.
For engagement details, click here

We at Help For Hemorrhoids hope you’re sitting happy in the traffic. Like our page and tell us about the worst sit-in you’ve ever sat-in.

This is not social media. This is stupid. If you’re saying/doing/tweeting things like this, then you deserve the trolling noise you’re sure to have, and – just for breaking the Internet’s heart – your nether regions should be infested with a thousand little Julius Malemas.

Kitchen Roll TwitterWhy is it that every brand flapped forward to the frontline of social media and created a fan page and/or a twitter account anyway? Sure I’d have to be an absolute twit to contend the value of this platform outright, but for every single brand? Seriously? Kitchen towel is your friend in the kitchen. Let us know if you keep yours in a cool, dry place?  Shan’t. Because I’m too busy smashing my device into pieces for allowing ‘suggested posts’ like this into my life.

What happened to our focus on the studiously researched science of placement? Just like you wouldn’t put a funeral parlour in a shopping mall, why be compelled to create a social media presence for your brand of kitchen towel, hmm? For a promotion-period, sure… But for everyday frivolity? Just because 51% of active Twitter users follow companies, brands or products on social networks, doesn’t mean you have a captive-receptacle ready to blithely bait whatever you tweet them. They can and eventually will choose what they are going to stick around for.

But take note, because there are those getting it right! Kraft Macaroni & Cheese is one such example. This Facebook page has 1 492 201 likes (and growing). Why? Because macaroni and cheese. And because you know you love it. But not everyone has a sleeper hit like this; the equivalent of winning the social media lottery doesn’t come easy to the lazy.

The slacker social media-ists

They’re everywhere. You can recognise them by their savvy tricks to lure you in or baffle your brain with hashtags. They hope for miraculous social media reach and activity with notoriously catatonic updates ending with a really lame question. Or… they believe their brand should prove its prowess with a tweet about #worldclass #synergy for #effective #results that drive #consumer #awareness for #global #brandgrowth across a #commonthread that #leveragesUSP for #clientlove. If your audience really wanted to engage with content that made absolutely no sense, they would just watch the eNCA.

Personalities wanted

Owning a company and representing its brand shouldn’t compel you to become a drudging, commonplace and wearisome bore. People like and want to connect with those very human aspects and characteristics of your brand. All of social media is a stage and you are a leading player on it. Build your character (from many facets) and infuse feelings that people can actually connect with. Sure, that 02h43 drunken and misspelt rant about your boss’s saggy bum won’t deliver the golden parachute (so make sure your spelling is correct, at least), but a little of the heart behind the heat sheds light on whom, why and what builds the brand – on a daily basis.

Tweeting for the team

Consider a forum for additional voices that are recognised as part of it. So you are not @CocaCola, but you are @CocaCola_RuthD_CFO_Europe, or @Shoprite_Jenni_TalentScout. Granted, it’s no Ipsos Measurement or a theory that Millward Brown may list, but these personality sentiments will return exponential growth in followers because of the fly-on-the-wall nuggets of information being shared from behind the scenes. Interesting = more talkability. But really interesting; not how-many-squares-on-our-kitchen-towel? interesting.

Get to grips with this forum and watch it work for you.

If you are tweeting as the role that is behind the brand:

  • Write as you – but responsibly
  • If it’s boring, bin it
  • Steer new conversations
  • Evoke responses that add value
  • Prompt thoughtful, engaging, ongoing discussions from your own voice
  • Retweet your colleagues’ tweets
  • Make the circle bigger

And then, once you’ve got this down pat, remember: just one small cap is enough.

I knew you were trouble

The moral of the story can’t be based on morals because none of us have many left, and the ones who do wouldn’t agree on the mix anyway. Case in point: I was troubled (again) recently as I came across this App ad, promoted to my feed:

Sneakr

Just because a guy likes a little Wizard of Oz in his playlist and was (just once) called a sexual predator by the French Rugby team, doesn’t mean he wants your creepy App that does this, okay? Show me a gay man that wants an App to help him sneak pictures of men to share with the friends he doesn’t even have, and I’ll show you a guy who belongs in the same ‘category’ of people who choose to be fans of kitchen towel or cooking oil on Facebook. We call this ‘category’ an asylum which is where we’re all headed if we don’t watch the cerebral value of the content we a) issue, b) engage with or c) all of the above.

Remember: Social Media should ultimately make us smarter in how we can access more information and from being better connected to each other than ever before.

Get connected with me @DylanBalkind.

Thanks for reading!

© Dylan Balkind

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