Social media moves fast, and one of the more compelling aspects is the off-the-cuff honesty it breeds and encourages in both professional and personal users.
Often this results in heartfelt or admirable, less-polished works- somewhat like the blog post penned by Russell Brand in the wake of Amy Winehouse’s death that has since gone viral. While Brand’s essay is an illustration of how the less-filtered aspects of social media allow for better communication, it’s inevitable that a high-profile death like Winehouse’s will bring out the more questionable judgment of some social media users given the pressure or inclination to react rather quickly and remain ahead of the curve.
Predictably, there were the immediate scams on Facebook- chronicled by the ever vigilant Sophos on their Naked Security blog– offering an alleged glimpse into Winehouse’s last moments, last night out or purporting to show the singer smoking crack before her death. Scammers be scamming, and their use of Winehouse’s death to further their clickjacking agenda is to be expected.
But did anyone expect Microsoft might come under fire for sleaziness in the wake of Amy Winehouse’s passing? The intent of their memorial tweet was, the company says, innocent, but many fans took offense to what appeared to them to be a crass use of Winehouse’s untimely demise to move digital music:
The tweet, originally posted on the @tweetbox360 account has since been deleted, but screenshots have circulated. The company has since sheepishly tweeted an apology:
Apologies to everyone if our earlier Amy Winehouse ‘download’ tweet seemed purely commercially motivated. Far from the case, we assure you…
With Amy W’s passing, the world has lost a huge talent. Our thoughts are with Amy’s family and friends at this very sad time.
While Microsoft’s error was more gray, less excusable is the HuffPo writer that steps over Winehouse’s body to use her death as a metaphor for small business failure. “Award winning entrepreneur and marketer Tricia Fox” presents commentary about Winehouse as an allegory for business failure, in and of itself a fail all its own- tone-deafness aside, the comparison itself was incredibly weak. We can probably deduce any awards earned by Fox were not in the area of sensitivity or compassion.
Fox actually wrote these lines:
But whether you are a pop star, a plumber or a business consultant, the same rules still apply: you are the product. And if that’s the case, you are going to need to take really good care for yourself if you want your business to succeed.
To recap- it’s entirely okay to express your thoughts, feelings, opinions or grief at a notable event, even when speaking as a professional on social media. Just don’t use tragic or depressing events as a way to promote you, your brand, your product, your company or to make an overall self-serving point. It will almost inevitably backfire.