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Justin Bieber Makes a Funny
By: Elaine Reed
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Full disclosure: I am 35 and not even remotely interested in Justin Bieber. But this morning he posted a pretty funny tweet, and while I do not follow him, one of the people I follow on Twitter does and retweeted his comment. Here it is:

“dear cougars. i see the jokes. i’m legal. hahaha”

Not only did Justin’s tweet make me chuckle, it got me thinking. (And no, it didn’t get me thinking about Justin being legal, or wondering whether Selena Gomez is relieved that she’s no longer hanging out with jail bait. Well. Okay about the Selena thing.) It was a firm reminder that good brand managers are always watching what people are posting about their products. But not only that, it was a lesson in responding.

Let’s not fool ourselves. The likelihood that Justin is the only person running his Twitter account — or any other social media profile — is slim to none. This means that at some point his team established guidelines for what should and should not get a response. Fan club members requesting songs at an upcoming concert? Sure. Retweeting comments of support? Sure, but probably on a case-by-case basis. Answering questions about an upcoming appearance or project? Absolutely. Varying degrees of comments about how attracted people are to him? Uhhh, not so much.

So how do you draw the line between what you respond to and what you don’t? Here are a few guidelines to help you figure it out:
  • Customer Service Issues. Ignoring questions or complaints from existing customers is dangerous. While not every comment may get or need a public response, they should all be acknowledged and whenever possible, resolved.
  • Praise and comments of support. This one is tricky. If someone tells you face to face that you did a good job on something, or look especially nice today, you don’t ignore them. At the same time, if you’ve just had an enormous product launch it may not be reasonable to respond to each individual comment. In that case, a blanket statement to all of your supporters may be appropriate.
  • Requests for Freebies. This is another tricky situation. If your organization has a specific item or service that is being offered for free via social channels then you should already have your response mechanism in place. But if someone is posting out of the blue asking for charity, you should follow your official corporate policy regarding donations and point the person to the appropriate channel for an answer.
  • Random comments about how hot/sexy/silly/naughty you or your product can be and/or making propositions. Finally, a no brainer. Follow your brand book. If your brand is like Howard Stern’s or Axe, you thrive on bawdiness. If your brand is that of a reasonably wholesome pop star or a product like Dove that people may use intimately, but not for intimate purposes, then the best approach is mostly likely to turn a blind eye. If your brand isn’t established enough for your social media managers to know how to handle these comments, you need to circle the wagons and figure it out now!
Will Justin’s tweet lead to more propositions and risqué comments? Probably. But if you look at Justin’s Twitter feed now, you will see that he made his joke and moved on. He’s refocused on being gracious about the tons of birthday wishes he is receiving and taking about his latest project. Well played, Justin. Well played. He had some fun, showed a bit of personality, and is back on track. That is social media done well. I suppose maybe I shouldn’t mostly ignore the kid anymore.

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About the Author
Elaine Reed is a marketing professional with heavy emphasis on e-commerce and Internet marketing. She blogs regularly on her website and tweets often.
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