Bill Cosby has had a growing reputation management dilemma in recent years regarding allegations of inappropriate conduct. Like all negative reviews on the internet, there can be merit to the reviews, or they can be fake, and you do not have control of the content people publish. Not having a platform to respond is frustrating. In Cosby’s case, his name is his brand. One of the techniques for dealing with bad reviews or online posts is to create more content that is positive to compete with negative content in the search results. His team decided to use a meme generator to help create more positive content and create social buzz for his brand.
Meme Generators allow for you place captions on (often funny) images. Kids and adults spend enormous amounts of time on the internet looking for the next laugh and for something to send to others. It is the perfect social filler as it can start and fuel conversations. Social Media managers are always looking for new ways to engage users. Bill Cosby’s social media handlers posted a meme generator allowing other users to place captions on his images. Cosby’s career in comedy and images with facial and physical distortions lend themselves to hilarious captions.
The decision is tough to use social media for any brand whether it is a company name, product or in this case, a name of an individual. The appeal of almost instant global publicity makes it tempting to enter. However, a viral social media campaign is sometimes ruled by mob psychology, and if there is something negative about your brand, it can and will be exploited. In Cosby’s case, the growing under current of rape allegations created passionate social users to create negative memes.
The Perfect Negative Storm
The Entangle Media Equation for going viral is Emotion + Passion = Viral Motivation
The Cosby team was using the meme platform to create emotion of humor part of the equation. They successfully did that but the result was the unintended dark humor. The issue in this case was not taking into account the Passion side. People that are passionate about a topic will be more likely to act especially if combined with negative emotions. Online, the passionate minority can do a lot more damage for reputations than the silent majority. When was the last time you wrote a good review? We always tell ourselves that we are going to, but it just does not happen. However, bad experiences disproportionately create the motivation for acting on reviews.
Was the Cosby Meme Campaign a Success?
At first glance, it was a total disaster. However, it looks different from a higher level. The social media team did create an instant viral campaign. If you subscribe to the any press is good press doctrine, then this campaign was a home run. First the reputation issue was already circulating and growing stronger. The allegations in this story were probably not a surprise to many.
The Cosby Meme campaign was a success in bringing his brand back in the spotlight. We have noticed in many of the comments that this incident is creating a lot of passion from his supporters, which is creating the positive comments and press that they wanted in the first place. The end result may be losing a lot of fans but creating more passion for his supporters that think he is getting unfair treatment. The result is increased motivation for supporters which is what sells seats at his shows and books.
His social media tactic gives him access to the entire media. Now he has the platform to speak his side of the story. Whether, this is a case of intended or unintended consequences, highlights how social media can not be controlled.
Talk with your social media team to discuss which platforms are appropriate and stay involved if you make the commitment.