This weekend, Mitt Romney’s social media presence took off to the tune of 100,000 new followers on Twitter. The problem: the velocity was unprecedented and there was no apparent impetus for the increase” Romney suspended his campaign in respect to the victims of the Colorado shootings. This isn’t the first time that Romney has allegedly purchased Twitter followers. In the primaries only a quarter of his followers were shown to be actual people.
Last week, Chick-Fil-A President Dan Cathy was questioned about millions of dollars of donations made to churches committed to opposing gay marriage asserted that he was “guilty as charged.” Campaigns to boycott Chick-Fil-A were started at petition sites and through social media (particularly Twitter).
Here’s the commonality between the two: both Romney and Cathy were reported to have a “social media” problem. I find this assertion quite absurd. After all, if these issues were reported on network news, they wouldn’t have a “mainstream media problem” – they would simply have a problem. And they do. Romney’s team doesn’t seem to grasp some basic social media concepts and Cathy deliberately alienated a portion of his customer base (making an assumption about sexual orientation being irrelevant to fast food consumption).
My wife and I met on match.com. Very commonly we’ll get a look of skepticism when we tell people this and it conjures the same sense of perplex that I have with labeling things a “social media problem.” Is our relationship diminished because we met online? Nope. Our relationship wouldn’t be qualitatively better or worse if I had approached her at a bar or at church, yet somehow attaching that online element adds some irrelevant and unnecessary context to it.
Online dating is to relationships as social media is to problems as Paul Revere is to the British coming (I’m writing from Boston and couldn’t resist): A is how you are aware of B. It’s that simple. Once we understand social media as a means to an end (be that conversation, action, whatever) and stop seeing social as an entity capable of good and evil, you can utilize it to do your bidding. Like finding more followers or issuing apologies to communities you’ve upset.