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There’s No Hiding in Social Media

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Whether it’s an embarrassing video of one of the NBA’s leading players getting dunked on, or the trailer for a highly anticipated movie, some leaked videos should remain…leaked.

When brands try and control social media (which goes against the whole idea), they can end up hurting their brand image, and the two most recent social media blunders were no exception. For the record, this does not mean companies should let libel/slander/copyright issues abound on the web.  But recently, there were two instances where videos surfaced that Nike and Disney didn’t want anyone to see, and their curmudgeon-like responses sparked some intense brand dissonance (we’re writing an entire blog entry on it, for goodness sakes!).

When cameras caught  Xavier’s Jordan Crawford dunk on LeBron James a few weeks ago, Nike made sure to confiscate the footage (as rumored, per request of LeBron). As LeBron is a huge endorser for Nike, obviously they didn’t want the Nike image to be damaged by the superstar’s slip-up.  Of course, two phones with the capability to take video caught the dunk, and the video got out anyway.

Sweeping an error under the rug does more harm than good in the age of social media. Instead of a quick laugh about how the LeBron got dunked on by a college player, the talk was all about how Nike (or LeBron) tried to hide the video. Now both reputations are tarnished. Honestly, most people (myself included) don’t even think the dunk is that big of a deal. I only saw the video because of Nike’s response; I wouldn’t have otherwise.

Nike wasn’t the only one to generate negative buzz by trying to hide video content. When video leaked from Alice in Wonderland, Disney forced YouTube to take the videos down. The videos were already creating an immense amount of viral buzz, and could have really pumped up promotions for the movie. As the end-user, I wouldn’t have heard of this debacle if Disney hadn’t chosen to play big brother. It just made it harder for me to find the trailer online (booooo).

In social media, the best thing you can do is roll with the punches, take whatever you’ve had thrown at you and work with it. The worst thing you can do is try to eliminate a problem by pretending it didn’t happen. The word will always get out, because it already did!

Because Disney pulled the trailer, it missed out on days of momentum building for its new movie. Basically, Disney sabotaged it’s own WOM campaign. Nike may not have gotten a lot of promotional use out of the LeBron video, but by the time Ben Roethlisberger was making headlines, every one would have forgot about LeBron’s debacle anyway.

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