‘Fifty Shades’ author E.L. James gets blasted in Twitter chat

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A few years ago, my good friend Abbie Fink suggested I read “Fifty Shades of Grey.”

We were in New Orleans for Counselors Academy, and everyone was reading it at the same time. When I finished, I announced I needed to bleach my eyeballs—not because of the “erotica,” but because the writing was so bad.

So. Bad.

We had a good laugh about the book and commiserated on how bad (SO BAD) the writing was. As communicators, we pride ourselves as good—if not great—writers and the writing was particularly offensive.

To this day, when anyone asks whether I’ve read it, I always say the writing was so bad, it made me want to bleach my eyeballs.

I’m not in the minority among this. All you have to do is Google, “Fifty Shades of Grey awful writing” and you’ll find pages and pages of articles written about just how terrible it is.

That’s why, when Laura Petrolino sent me a Buzzfeed article and I later saw the same thing on Monina Wagner’s wall, I just shook my head.

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What could possibly go wrong?

It seems E.L. James, the author of this horribly written book, participated in a Twitter chat—and the Internet took her to task.

This, of course, isn’t James’ fault. It’s that of her book publicist.

When you set out to do something like this for a client or team member, you must think through everything that could go wrong.
In this case, her publicist should have come back and said, “Here are all the things that could go wrong”:

  • There are many people who think the writing—particularly in the first book—is really bad and will have fun with it on Twitter.
  • You could be accused of being misogynistic because of the topic of the trilogy.
  • There are many people who think the book promotes abuse and sexual harassment, and that could become an issue during the chat.
  • Though it’s fairly well known that this series started out as fan fiction, based on “Twilight,” you could be accused of stalking its author, Stephenie Meyer.
  • There may be negative tweets overall about its success, despite the subject matter.

If it were me, I’d look at this list and decide the reward did not outweigh the risk—and not do it.

Either her publicist didn’t do this work, or the work was done and James decided to go ahead with it anyway.

Either way, what ensued was not good.



Then her publicist got the wrath of the Internet:

The Twitter chat gone wrong

It might seem like a Twitter chat is harmless. I mean, it’s a Twitter chat. What could possibly go wrong?

Hers is a great example of exactly what can go wrong.

Other examples include:

Google “Twitter chat gone wrong” and you can find lots of examples of what you can expect if you don’t plan your Twitter chat.

It’s our job to stop, think and plan—every time.

Before every Twitter chat

If your boss, client, executive or colleague wants to do a Twitter chat, always think, “STP.” (I came up with that on my own, but it works. STP could also mean “stop,” which reminds you to stop, think and plan.)

Here is the very least that you should do for every Twitter chat. It won’t take you very long, and it will save you a lot of pain in the end:

  1. Go to Google, and try every variation of what people think about the company, brand, or executives. Try, “I hate [company],” “I hate [brand],” “I hate [person].”
  2. Create a list of every possible negative outcome, as I did above in the E. L. James example. Think through everything. Ask your friends—those who are not in the business—what they think. Review market research or any surveys you’ve done.
  3. Go through every negative outcome and provide a numerical assessment: Assign a 3 for it could be really bad, 2 for it could be moderately bad, and 1 for it probably won’t be a blip.
  4. Add up the numbers and divide by the number of outcomes you have listed. For instance, I would put a 3 on the first four of the “Fifty Shades” list above and 2 on the last one. So the total is 14. I divide that by 5 and get 2.8. That is close enough to 3 (it could be really bad) that I would advise James against doing the chat. (It is math, but it’s simple addition and division. You can do it.)

If you make the recommendation and the Twitter chat still goes forward, you will have done your job and can’t be blamed. (You’ll have the added benefit of being able to say, “I told you so,” which is sometimes just as rewarding.)

A version of this article first appeared on Spin Sucks.

 
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What We Can Learn from the Epic Fail That Was the Fifty Shades of Grey Twitter Chat

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Author: Sesame Mish

Can you say #awkward?! On Monday, author E.L. James hosted a Q&A on social media channel Twitter as a way to engage diehard followers of the widely popular Fifty Shades of Grey story and pique their interest in the most recent book to be published in the series, Grey.

Yikes! Where It All Went Kaput

Sounds tame enough, right? Wrong! During the Twitter chat, James and her team assumed that fans would ask the famed author questions about the intricacies of her writing and what inspires her stories, among other topics. But these “other topics” took on a whole new meaning. Instead of asking the author light-hearted questions like who her favorite character is, people dove much deeper—pushing the envelope in calling her stories out for misogynistic themes, and sticking it where it hurts in insulting her writing abilities:

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eliterate

hate

Obviously, this publicity stunt did not go well for the author or the brand. But while your company’s Twitter chats will (hopefully) not go this poorly, it doesn’t hurt to be armed with some solid tips on how to prepare for and handle a similar situation:

1. Create Your Own Questions

Prior to the Twitter chat, compose a handful of appropriate questions that are pertinent to the discussion and which you believe would interest your audience. As a marketer, you know your audience well, so this step should be as easy as pie. Throw in some fun, borderline edgy questions into the mix so that you’re showing that you’re an open book. Then, recruit colleagues and industry influencers to tweet these questions out (and include the designated chat hashtag, of course) throughout the chat. That way, appropriate questions will be injected into the hashtag’s feed, thus influencing other chat attendees and swaying the conversation in the direction you want it to go.

2. Recruit a PR Wingman

It’s a good idea to have a PR-minded professional or two sitting next to you during the chat. That way, if sour questions start flying your way, you’ll be equipped with the right message to send back. PR people are masters of messaging and branding and will provide you with responses that not only help to protect your image and the integrity of your brand, but also help to steer the conversation in the direction you originally intended. Without having this support around you to field the ugly inquiries, you may get flustered or angered and tweet something back that you would later regret. PR people, on the other hand, are able to keep their cool and focus on the task at hand: getting the situation under control.

3. Learn to Laugh at Yourself

In addition to a PR person, you should also consider having a comedian by your side (or, a witty, quick-thinking co-worker will do!) If the Twitter chat starts going awry, this person can come up with funny—but still appropriate—replies to offensive questions, thus injecting an element of humor into the conversation. Tweeting out such replies will not only show your audience that you can laugh at yourself, but that you also can beat them at their own game. In doing so, your punchy response tweet will also overshadow the ugly question and minimize its 15 minutes of fame. At the end of the day, you’ll come out on top and impress your audience with your quick-wittedness and composure.

All-in-all, using Twitter chats to communicate with your audience is a great way to extend your brand’s reach and accumulate more followers, which can definitely translate into more customers (can you say “cha-ching”?!) So, don’t be afraid to explore the use of Twitter chats as a part of your marketing strategy. When executed well, Twitter chats can generate lots of positive buzz and interest in your brand.

Now it’s your turn! What are your tips for taking control of a Twitter chat when the audience starts to turn on you? Let us know in the comments below!


What We Can Learn from the Epic Fail That Was the Fifty Shades of Grey Twitter Chat was posted at Marketo Marketing Blog – Best Practices and Thought Leadership. | http://blog.marketo.com

The post What We Can Learn from the Epic Fail That Was the Fifty Shades of Grey Twitter Chat appeared first on Marketo Marketing Blog – Best Practices and Thought Leadership.


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