Thursday, 4 August 2011
Social Media: Respect the Beast
We’ve all heard a story or two about a teenager who, after being left home alone by their parents, has decided to hold a bit of a shindig and invite their friends via Facebook, leading to word of an adult-free party zone with booze and members of the opposite sex spreading across a ten mile radius.
The result? Swarms of revellers stampeding on the house and destroying it like a plague of locusts, causing much trauma and telling off for the naïve teenager who decided to announce the gathering on one of the most public mediums there is.
Now, social media is being blamed for Beech Road Festival, which is held annually in Chorlton, being “overrun by gangs of youths”. After the festival saw an unprecedented 20,000 people attend, who were blamed for littering and “urinating in gardens”, the organisers have decided not to run the event again next year.
An article in the MEN on the matter stated: “The organisers blamed publicity of the event on social networking websites like Facebook and Twitter for the overcrowding.”
Poor social media, always getting the blame.
The problem with social media seems to be that although everyone wants to use it to promote their event, product, service, company or self, many users aren’t prepared or equipped for when their online efforts actually work. When social media comes into its own and spreads a message further and wider than any other unpaid or traditional method could, what the hell are you supposed to do??
I’ve used social media in the past to promote events and campaigns on behalf of clients. My efforts have usually ended up with modest results and there has always been something in hindsight that I could have done to make a bigger and better impact. But then again, maybe it was better that I didn’t? I mean, I don’t know how on earth I would have coped if 20,000 uninvited people had turned up to a product launch, which we held down in London with a flavour-of-the-month celeb. The dozen or so paps were enough of a handful!
So should we blame social media when things get out of hand? No. Should we treat the beast with caution? Yes. Social media can be a very valuable tool, but users need to appreciate the potential strength of it. When social media is good, it’s very very good, but when it’s bad, it can be wicked.