The Ugly Truth About Online Exposure

I saw a news post recently that really got my attention. Disney sent a tweet to their Japanese unit with a reference to Alice in Wonderland. In that movie, the well-known term “unbirthday” means all of the other days a year that aren’t your birthday – so you can celebrate any day of the year. Well, in the spirit of that movie, the tweet had a picture of Tokyo Disneyland visitors dressed in Alice in Wonderlandcostumes and wished the followers a very merry unbirthday.

In Japanese, that translated into “a day of nothing” – and just happened to coincide with a day of commemoration for the more than 74,000 killed when the US dropped an atomic bomb on Nagasaki back in 1945. Yeah. I cringed like that, too. You know that sound on game shows when the contestant gets it wrong – bwah, bwah, bwah? Insert that here. So what was meant to be a fun tweet to keep people aware turned into a PR nightmare. Yep, people are aware all right – for all of the wrong reasons!

I personally like to learn from other folks’ mistakes when I can, so this got me thinking about how I intend for people to see my business might not actually be the message they’re getting. Let’s face it. Online marketing is not easy! On the one hand, it’s more exposure than you could get years ago for the same effort…but on the other hand, it can be taken wrong so easily. So keep a couple of things in mind to keep your message coming through loud and clear:

  1. Do your homework – In 2014, Forbes magazine published a great article on online marketing metrics so you can know who you’re reaching and make adjustments as needed.
  2. Know your audience – If you know who you’re sending your message to, you’ve got most of the battle won.
  3. Communicate the message, not just the words – In my opinion, if the Disney folks in Japan knew exactly what having a very merry unbirthday was supposed to mean, they would not have allowed that tweet to go out – especially on that day. They could have either delayed the message to another time or said it in a way that the Japanese culture could accept.
  4. Don’t be afraid to test it out – if you have contacts who know the audience you’re reaching, get their opinion on how your message will be received. Constructive feedback is invaluable!

Let’s face it, there is a lot of information out there. There are lots of companies trying to raise awareness about their products. So cut through the static! Make sure your message gets to the right people in the right way.

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