In the past week I have seen 2 different news stories spread to thousands of users through Social Media with very different results. With how quick and easy it is to spread information to the public these days, companies and those who represent them must be extremely mindful of their conduct at all times. While anonymity is certainly a common practice in online communication, many individuals choose to be far more transparent, especially if they are the face of their own brand.
The first piece of news had to do with retailer Urban Outfitters. They were accused by an independent jewelry maker of copying her necklace designs. This story was posted on the designer’s blog and was subsequently spread to thousands of readers through Facebook and Twitter, even becoming a trending topic. At first, it probably did wonders for the artist’s notoriety, making it seem like she was being ripped off by a big company. But soon, more facts surrounding the accusations began to surface which changed mine, and likely many other people’s perceptions of the situation. UO released a statement where they showed a number of other similar jewelry designs, indicating that the idea was not original to any one particular person. In the end, this designer just looks like someone trying to make herself look good by stirring up trouble…and failing miserably.
The other story hit much closer to home for me (although I do shop at Urban!). A PA local Event rider and trainer, Boyd Martin, suffered a huge tragedy early Tuesday morning. The barn that he rented at Phillip Dutton’s True Prospect Farm burned down, leaving 6 of his valuable competition horses dead and 5 others (including Neville Bardos who placed 10th with Boyd at the 2010 World Equestrian Games) injured. I used to take lessons with Boyd and have always been a big fan of his, so when I heard the news on the Eventing Nation blog, I was immediately compelled to share the story with as many people as I could through Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr. Thanks to the social media outreach of many EN readers, a huge amount of support has been gained from the community to help Boyd and his team recover. I think that much of the reason that everyone has been so willing to lend their support to Boyd, his wife Silva, and their entire team is because of the way they conduct themselves, both in person and online. They are always genuinely nice, down to earth, and a pleasure to work with. The outcome of this situation may not have been the same if say… they had been caught making false accusations on their blog.
Overall, I think that Social Media can be a fantastic way to spread new quickly and efficiently, but if you aren’t careful about what you put out there it can come back to bite you.