5 lessons from Justine Sacco

By General

Justine Sacco tweetsToo busy preparing for the holidays to have heard of l’Affaire Sacco? Buzzfeed has a useful summary of how one woman’s tweet took over the Twittersphere last weekend, and took down a career — at least temporarily. Five quick takeaways:

  1. The interplay between social and traditional media has never been greater, so what happens on Twitter is quickly served up with breakfast on Good Morning, America. 68,000 tweets referenced Justine Sacco — and about 120,000 tweets referenced #hasJustineLandedYet hashtag. All this social content fed the traditonal media on a quiet weekend, and stoked the firestorm.
  2. The reach of social media is more than matched by the speed of the spread. People are already correlating the speed of viral content with its accuracy — see, If a Story Is Viral, Truth May Be Taking a Beating. No one is claiming this was a hacked Twitter account, but people’s mean-spirited thoughts or attempts at sarcasm now quickly become their one sentence bio.
  3. There’s increased murkiness between your public presence as an individual and your employer’s reputation. This is amplified if you are ostensibly a public relations professional or business leader. Clear hate speech likely violates most terms of employment, but personal views that hit the media will be fodder for interesting employment disputes in the future.
  4. There’s a lot of pressure for brands to participate in realtime, but there’s also attendant risk. The opportunity is highlighted in this Altimeter report about Real-time Marketing: The Agility to Leverage ‘Now’. Brands can jump on — but need to have the right people at the helm to make thoughtful, quick decisions. I may be the only marketer who admits to having had a pang of terror at the famous (and brilliant!) dunk in the dark Oreo moment during the SuperBowl blackout. Tweets re Justine Sacco hashtag from sbarro (now deleted) and Gogo were a big miss, and brands need to re-evaluate who has the social media car keys on a Friday night.
  5. There’s more you can do as an individual than participate in what The Nation called a meme for jeering global flagellation. Thanks to Nick Kristof and others who weighed in with reminders for people to support the cause rather than join the fray. People supported Aid for Africa (via an inspired domain redirect from justinesacco.com!), and donated to other AIDS related charities via the modest page that Nate Matias and I put together to shift the conversation from trial by social media.

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