Social media failures: lessons from Brazil

Photo Credit: monotrilho| via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: monotrilho| via Compfight cc

A new wave of protests started in Brazil this week. The protests center around political corruption and irresponsible government spending. (I guess the only thing we’re missing here in the U.S. is a soccer tournament…)

Just as in the Arab Spring protests that toppled governments in Egypt, Libya and elsewhere, social media is playing a large part in the events in Brazil. But not all of the social interaction is positive. Some online marketers have deleted posts due to the backlash. Now, digital media managers in Brazil are telling clients to stop posting unrelated content to their social networks.

One said that, “People are not naive anymore. They can understand when brands are trying to take advantage of something.” Another stated that it’s pointless to move ahead on a social media strategy when “…your brand is not prepared to connect with what people are talking about.” (Read the full article at

Even if your part of the world isn’t in a state of unrest, I think there are lessons to learn from the social media failures in Brazil.

Social media is about connecting with people

This may sound like a “well, duh” notion, but too many social media marketers are still shouting at us like they did through traditional advertising channels. Self-serving posts meant to drive conversions are just seen as a cheap sales pitch. Social media is most effective at brand identity through meaningful connections. Don’t just show us what you want to sell. Tell us what your brand believes in. Don’t try to sell us. Engage us with your core message.

Social media is more sociology than technology

If that doesn’t make sense to you, do the rest of us a favor…stop posting anything until it does. I wish I could take credit for this. It hit me earlier today, but I’m a few years late on the idea.

The Arab Spring revolutionaries and now the protesters in Brazil use social networks as a tool to spread information. That’s all technology is—a tool. Social networks are tools that facilitate human interaction.

If you wanted, you could use a sledgehammer to drive a screw into wood. But it’s certainly not the best tool for the job, and you might get some unexpected results. Better to use a screwdriver, don’t you think? Social networks aren’t just a new digital channel to shout through. Instead, use social media to better understand your target market: how they think, what they care about, how they make decisions.




Social Media Energizes the Brazil Protests

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