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Techmuse: How not to do Social Media or Customer Service

December 27, 2011

I have several friends who work now in the social media sphere – they’ve been hired to understand how to communicate on social media to get your message across in the best way possible. As part of my job I do a large amount of social media searching, to see what information I can find. In both cases, one of the things that is driven home is that the internet is forever. If you screw up, the information will be out there, and findable, so you need to be aware of that possibility, and be ready to apologize/explain/commit seppeku.

At 12:30 AM this morning, Penny Arcade broke the latest in public relations screw-ups online. In a nutshell, the company OceanMarketing are responsible for marketing a PS3/Xbox controller. A customer pre-ordered one, and the shipping dates kept on getting pushed back. That’s somewhat normal, so not a big deal. However, the customer service rep, which seems to be the president of the company, Paul Christoforo, handled this situation quite poorly. The customer got frustrated, and Paul went after him, claiming he knew all sorts of important people, etc. So the customer cc’ed a bunch of the big tech sites (Penny Arcade, Engadget, Kotaku, IGN), on one of his e-mails. Which of course the President liked – more publicity! The trick is, the adage about all publicity being good publicity doesn’t seem to hold as true as it used to. The internet changes that.

So what has happened since PA posted this wonderful e-mail exchange about 12 hours ago? Kotaku has an article, and the story is #3 on reddit at the moment. The #OceanMarketing and #OceanMarketting hashtags are blowing up (oh, yea, the twitter for the company is OceanMarketting, and he’s ridiculous on there too). IGN and Engadget have stated that they do not have a relationship with OceanMarketing. Multiple memes have started. Oh, and the Amazon page for this project is getting pretty beat up. Finally, this isn’t the first time he’s done this, even: see Nate’s Network.

Ok, the story isn’t good. What really flabbergasts me is the security this guy had around his social media stuff. At the start of all this, his twitter was open (Makes sense), but had his full name and personal e-mail. His facebook was unlocked. His linkedin was not private. His youtube page has videos of him threatening youtube viral action cause of the noise outside his apartment building (it’s a terrible video, and when I saw it today had 301 views, many of which come from this hooha, I’m sure, so fail job there getting it to go viral). If you are working on social media, you should know better.

This SHOULD be a lesson for customer service people (be nice!), for social media people (Make sure you have permissions/controls on your personal stuff), and for denizens of the internet (anything you post can be found). Of course, this is just one in a series of examples of social media and customer service ridiculousness, so I expect to see more soon.

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