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How Twitter Can Make You Hate A Brand…Starring Ricky Gervais
Twitter is often portrayed as a great way of getting people to like you and think you’re incredibly influential and intelligent; by posting a few ‘hilarious’ observations about Question Time or making a sardonic comment about how much Rylan from The X Factor makes you want to resign from the human race, you can be catapulted from a nobody into a modern day Oscar Wilde.
The same goes for brands. A brand without a Twitter account in 2012 might as well be a brand without a logo. A brand without a Facebook page…well…
It’s well established that Twitter is a great way of positively engaging with your customers and people who may be interested in your brand. The positives far outweigh the negatives, we’re told, and basically even just having a Twitter account puts you on the fast track to untold marketing success. With social signals becoming more important in SEO, being a Twittering type can help cannon your site up the SERPs too.
Plus, there are loads of people who love your brand who are just dying to engage with you on social media. Even if you make the odd ill-advised tweet or social media faux pas, this core base of customers will stand by you lapping up everything you put out there…right?
Well, no. The thing is – and it’s something that’s occasionally glossed over when painting social media marketing as the future of just about everything (although that’s not to say it isn’t) – is that it’s just as easy to lose favour using a social network as it is to gain it. As was proven last week when I took the shock decision to unfollow Ricky Gervais (I know, I know).
A Cautionary Tale For Brands…Starring Ricky Gervais
Although it is very much still the ‘in thing’ to dislike Mr. Gervais, I’m not afraid to come out and say that I’m actually a big fan of his work. ‘The Office’, ‘Extras’ (which, in all honesty, is worth watching just for this scene), all the stuff he does bullying poor old Karl Pilkington – brilliant.
So you can imagine how fantastic I thought it was when I realised that he had joined Twitter – or rather re-joined Twitter. What fascinating insight would he provide into his comedic workings?
The answer is none. You see, it turns out Ricky Gervais isn’t actually that fun to follow on Twitter. From my experience of following him for a few months, I can safely say that his Twitter activity has negatively affected my opinion of Ricky Gervais the brand, as loath as I am to refer to any individual as a ‘brand’.
Why? Let’s start off with the ‘mong scandal’. Ricky Gervais isn’t a big fan of political correctness. I could have told you that pre-Twitter but his contentious use of the word ‘mong’, accompanied by pictures of him pulling some slightly offensive facial expressions, confirmed it. The tabloids leaped on it and Ricky went into ultra-defensive mode, explaining why mong isn’t an offensive word and how everyone agrees with him even though people from disabled charities expressed the fact that, actually, they aren’t okay with the word ‘mong’.
I’ll be honest, the whole kerfuffle did make me feel a bit uncomfortable but then that’s Ricky Gervais for you. Plus, he proved how much he respects disabled people by making ‘Derek’, which totally isn’t about laughing at disabled people and is actually, like, really empowering. Look how kind Derek is. Isn’t he lovely? Ricky Gervais loves disabled people.
Anyway, that isn’t the reason I unfollowed David Bre…I mean, Ricky Gervais. It was because he doesn’t believe in God.
There’s nothing wrong with that because neither do I. But unlike Mr. Gervais, I don’t bang on about it constantly to anyone that’ll listen. Gervais’ atheism is relentless; he bears a somewhat contradictory pride in believing in nothing at all. Following Ricky Gervais on Twitter is what I imagine being stuck in an elevator with Richard Dawkins when you’re wearing a ‘Jesus is Great’ T-Shirt is like, an arduous lecture on why everyone who disagrees with him is wrong.
Gervais dislikes anyone who doesn’t agree with his atheist views. Even daring to suggest you’re agnostic is a crime in Ricky Gervais’ eyes. In fact, even if you agree with Gervais but would just like him to stop talking about how he doesn’t believe in any particular deity for five minutes, you end up getting gleefully blocked by Gervais and getting called a ‘gorp’ or a ‘c**t’.
So I took the decision to unfollow Gervais. From a writer and performer I genuinely admired, Ricky Gervais has become an attention-craving, intolerant, insecure loser who just won’t shut up. And that’s genuinely affected the way I approach his work which I previously enjoyed.
The moral of this tale is that it’s really, really important to get your social media strategy right before you go out and tweet with wild abandon. Gauge the mood of your audience and target your strategy to them. Realise that social media is a two-way conversation and for God’s sake (take that, Gervais), if you have a message DON’T bang on about it every five minutes in the hope that something will stick.
As for Ricky, I see him now and again and it appears he’s turned to demanding retweets via inane retweet-based jokes. He’s also preparing to release an app call Just Sayin’ after everyone’s favourite ‘I’ve just said something ridiculous but this hashtag justifies it’ hashtag. The descent of Gervais continues…