“The time has come," the Walrus said, “To talk of many things: Of shoes--and ships--and sealing-wax-- Of cabbages--and kings-- And why the sea is boiling hot-- And whether pigs have wings.”
So Lewis Carroll wrote back in the 1800s. I’d like to amend it slightly to the following
“The time has come,” the Walrus said,
“To talk of many things:
Of shoes–and ships–and sealing-wax–
Of cabbages–and queens–
And why the sea is boiling hot–
And what ‘in real life’ means.”
It happens that sometimes people write things on their social media platforms that you don’t agree with. It happens sometimes that people say things you don’t agree with. It happens sometimes that people say things that are true but are appropriated inappropriately and people get all het up about it unnecessarily.
My favourite example of this is the anti-halal movement being upset to find out that Vegemite is halal friendly. “It’s un-Australian”, they roared. “The Muslims are taking over”, they griped. Since Vegemite is a yeast based product and has nothing to do with meat, of course it’s halal friendly. It’s just that they note it on the bottle so they can sell it to people who are Muslim. Which is roughly 25% of the world’s population so from a marketing perspective it makes good sense to talk about the universal nature of our favourite spread. What is un-Australian is a bunch of people getting on social media and hammering a brand without any understanding of what they are opposing, how the retail market works or being able to spell correctly.
In a recent stoush online,the world imploded about use of the word ‘queen’ and a writer who is vehemently anti-bullying inadvertently set off her followers on an incredibly vicious session of mass online bullying. You see a lot of this mob mentality in the feminist space, anything to do with social justice, equality or even this year, when a brand changed their biscuit recipe.
People need to understand that there is no difference between real life and online anymore. Your behaviour online is as representative of you as the way you speak to a person in the street. The behaviour you are modelling online is the behaviour your children will mimic in their own online interactions. The horrible things you say to a customer representative you interact with online are as real as if you said them to a person in a shop front.
Brands need to front up to this actuality as well. You can’t aspire to be a transformative, customer focussed company in all your interactions except those online. You can’t just delete what you don’t like any more than you can just walk away from a customer making a complaint in your actual shop. The ambassadors you choose to represent your product or service need to be reflective of your brand personality in their own online communications. Your employees need to be networking online as well as face-to-face.
Digital interactions are still human interactions.
It really is this simple – online IS real life.