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Lessons Learned from Social Media Scandals

2013 was another great year for the rich and famous. A year chock-full of killer movies, stellar TV shows, hit songs, and serious scandal. From Bieber’s misadventures in Rio to Paula Deen’s racial slurring, 2013 was tabloid heaven. In this blog post we use these unfortunate incidents to highlight what NOT to do on social media.

Lessons Learned from Social Media Scandals

High-dollar divorces. Sexy secrets. Big time blunders. Scandal. It can be fascinating to watch real-life drama. Kind of like how it’s rather difficult to turn away from a car wreck. But sometimes it gets to be a bit too much. Will the scandals ever end? I can’t answer that, but I can provide a bit of comfort in the form of a few social media lessons. How could Bieber’s fall from grace possibly relate to your social media campaign? Read on to find out.

Simon Cowell’s Baby Mama

Andrew Silverman and X-factor mogul Simon Cowell were once good friends. It’s pretty safe to say that they aren’t so close now, since Mr. Silverman’s wife is currently pregnant with Simon’s child. Oops. No surprise that criticism was fairly fierce; scandals do that. But how does this apply to social media?

It’s never a good idea to steal someone else’s social media strategy. I mean, it’s ok to go out to lunch with their content, repost a funny tweet or share an informative status.  But don’t outright copy their strategy. What’s right for them might not be right for you. Find your own content, and make your own impression.

Julianne Hough’s Fashion Disaster

Last Halloween, Julianne Hough thought it would be a good idea to dress up as her favorite character, Crazy Eyes, from Orange is the New Black. Normally, this wouldn’t be a problem. But she also thought it would be a grand idea to wear blackface. Unsurprisingly, this caused a bit of public outcry.  Miss Hough may have had no idea that what she was doing would be seen as offensive. She did apologize after a photo of her costume went viral, after all. Or perhaps she thought that it didn’t matter, as the public would never become aware of it. But we live in an internet age. Anything a celebrity does is documented, and it’s only a matter of time before even the tiniest mistake becomes a huge scandal. And this mistake wasn’t so tiny.

In the social media world, an insensitive tweet or overly opinionated Facebook status can ruin years of hard work, as Miss Hough’s fashion choice did for her public image. The fiasco surrounding The Onion’s controversial and profane tweet about young Quvenzhane Wallis during the 2012 Oscars comes to mind. In order to avoid mistakes like these, you need to carefully plan out what you’re going to say. It’s also a good idea to be a bit picky about who is in charge of your social media. They do represent the public face of your company, after all.

Paula Deen Gets Mean

In a highly publicized court case last year, a former manager at one of Paula Deen’s restaurants in Savannah, Georgia, sued Miss Deen and her brother “for sexual and racial harassment.” During the court proceedings, it came to light that Miss Deen had used the “n-word”. Although the context in which she used the word is up to debate, the media seized the opportunity. She was labeled a racist and worse. Her empire crumbled, with her television show and numerous appearances canceled.

In the realm of social media, you need to focus on your own core values. Be the company that your fans want to see. In the same way that Ms. Deen embodies her company, your social media presence embodies yours. You need to provide content that is both relevant to your core values and pertinent to your fans’ interests. If you take any action that isn’t in line with these two parameters, as Paula did with her language choices, bad things are going to happen. For example, funny memes aren’t for everybody. A nerdy meme about Harry Potter might not be best choice for a purveyor of sports equipment.

Bieber Takes On to Latin America

This last year was another big one for the Biebs. During his Latin American tour, the young lad got into quite a bit of trouble. Among other things, he was allegedly sighted leaving a popular brothel in Rio de Janeiro. Most definitely not the healthiest of decisions. If the reports are to be believed, he knew nothing about these women.

Which reminds us: be wary of outsourcing your social media campaign to strangers. You need to be careful – don’t jump into bed with just any company. Although outsourcing can work with the right people, sometimes it’s simply the case that nobody knows you as well as you do. They probably won’t end up filming you in your sleep like one of Bieber’s mysterious lady friends did, but there can be dire consequences. You never know how healthy your social media strategy is going to be once they’ve left it. There’s no going back. Beliebe it.

So there you have it. Nuggets of social media wisdom mined from the cavern of celebrity scandals. But this is by no means an exhaustive list. There were plenty of other high-stakes blunders last year in Hollywood, from Lamar Odom’s drug and alcohol abuse to Teen Mom star Farrah Abraham’s foray into adult entertainment. And there are sure to be plenty more going forward into 2014. But every time you despair over another celebrity meltdown or high-profile breakup, just think about how it could apply to social media. The insights might surprise you. 

Any favorite scandals we failed to mention? Tell us in the comments!

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