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Beware of Social Media Ambulance Chasers

One of the more infuriating aspects of the social media space these days is the prevalence of ambulance chasing. We all know about ambulance chasing in the legal space. An accident occurs, and the lawyers practically run after the ambulance to get first dibs on the inevitable lawsuit. Sadly, the very same practice now happens in social media. Here’s how it works:

Step One, Version One: Something “questionable” happens within the social media space of a well-known brand. The questionable item varies. It could be a tweet that was meant for a personal account (a la the famous Red Cross “getting slizzered” incident). It could be promotion of a really stupid product.

Step One, Version Two: A major brand launches a new social media program of any type, perhaps on an up-and-coming new platform.

Step Two: The hordes of social media “consultants,” “gurus,” and “mavens” take to the blogosphere, analyzing every step of the above to the nth degree. These so-called experts use every manner of armchair quarterbacking to explain how they would have done things totally differently.

Step Three: The brands that are the subject of these blog posts see what has been written (thank you Google alerts), and are suddenly aware of the existence of the heretofore unknown social media guru.

Step Four (in the guru’s ideal world): The brand realizes the error of its ways in hiring its initial agency and hires the guru who so cleverly figured out exactly what do to after reaping the benefit of someone else trying something groundbreaking and risky first.

The tactics above  make me nutty. If a “guru’s” entire expertise is based on analysis of other people’s work instead of his or her own trial and error, that isn’t really expertise at all. It’s ambulance chasing.

Have any of you been the victim of this questionable practice?? I’d love to hear your war stories.

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