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Cautionary Social Media Tale: Bill Cosby

By November 12, 2014Social Media
Bill Cosby

By Thomas Neuberger

If you haven’t seen the public’s reaction to Bill Cosby’s social media tactic, the Cosby Meme Generator, I will save you some time – it went horribly wrong. I can only imagine the panic that must have raged through the agency as they watched the chaos unravel. I would bet Dr. Cosby took someone’s head off. The question is, what happened and how can you avoid turning a social media tactic into an autopilot defamation machine? The Cosby team would have been better off creating their own meme and letting people share it.

We all know social media is great for crowdsourcing content, but that doesn’t mean you should hand your brand over to the masses. Remember #myNYPD? How about #McDStories? And, of course #skittles. You have worked hard on building your brand and it can be reckless to put it in the public’s hands. If you want to access fan generated content try monitoring hashtags, fan forums, Instagram, and using tools like Olapic to get your hands on fan generated content to use. When you find great content, give your fans a shout out: repost their tweet, blog or pics, mention them and give them some love back. Everybody likes recognition.

Know your client and their brand. Ask the questions:

  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  • Are there any landmines we might expect from making this statement?
  • Is the way we are presenting your brand an honest depiction of it?

If there are any potentially harmful answers to those questions you will want to manage and minimize the possibility of them coming back to haunt you. There are lots of tools in the social media bag, make sure you are using the right ones. The agency Cosby used handed the public a hammer. This stunt may have destroyed Cosby professionally, but we have all seen celebrities, as Taylor would say “shake it off.” Woody Allen is still making movies right?

And just as a side note, if I was Jell-O’s agency of record, I’d be looking for a campaign that would make people forget about Bill.