Saturday morning, the American Anthropological Association celebrated its 114th birthday. Sort of. That morning, @AmericanAnthro tweeted something along the lines of:
“Today is AAA’s 114th birthday! Tell us why you love AAA with the hashtag #AAABDay.”
Not much later, two people responded:
Laugh-choking my coffee down, I chimed in:
A few minutes later, @AmericanAnthro picked up their ball and rage-quit.
The job of a social media manager for a large organization or corporation is apparently no walk in the park. Let’s not forget some of the classic fails in corporate social media, such as Delta implying there are giraffes in Ghana, DiGiornio making light of domestic violence, and NYPD asking followers to post their photos with police. The road to hell is paved in good intentions, I guess.
To be fair, @AmericanAnthro didn’t even do anything wrong (unlike those mentioned above) and their response to the trolls was the path of least resistance. Not that they planned it this way, but by deleting the tweet and calling it quits so quickly, they not only avoided having to slog through (let’s face it, minimal) ribbings for up to an entire day(!), but they (to my chagrin) kept the tweet from being cached. Okay, so sometimes the internet does forget (hence my dramatic re-enactment above.) Cheers to you, @AmericanAnthro, for saving face, resisting the urge to respond in a negative way, and depriving me of that oh-so-satisfying schadenfreude. And after all, at least they didn’t just up and rage-quit the entire internet (like Entenmann’s did).
Following this mini-scandal, I turned to some friends who manage social media accounts for various organizations and asked what they thought. One colleague, who also watches @AmericanAnthro (and who would like to remain anonymous), notes that you have to build up goodwill with your followers and then maybe they’ll cut you some slack. “The AAA account doesn’t have much personality. They started to do some more ‘human things,’ but mostly it’s just association news. That leaves them vulnerable to some extent.” Vulnerable, I take it, in that when they do want to do something fun, like celebrate a birthday, followers are more willing to take potshots at AAA (i.e. the organization) rather than play along with AAA (i.e. the social media manager).
I wondered if deleting the tweet was the best course of action. I asked my colleague what he might do if I were to troll the organization that he represents (in a way that would reveal his anonymity). “I’ve gotten I think exactly one in five years. I just ignored it.”
If anyone can take (or deserves) a good ribbing, it’s the American Anthropological Association. Hell, Executive Director Ed Liebow even gave us an award for how good we are at holding his feet to the flames. I think that means trolling @AmericanAnthro is fair game.
Happy belated birthday, AAA. Come get your 114 punches.
Post-Script: It just so happens that Savage Minds is looking to hire a new Social Media Management Intern. If you have a sense of humor, thick skin, some chops in anthropology, and maybe too much time on your hands, we want to hear from you. Extra-special preference for junior/senior undergraduates or recent graduates (i.e. before graduate school), and anthropologists of color. The internship is unpaid, but we do offer strongly-worded letters of recommendation for your hard work. Shoot me an email with a paragraph on why you’re perfect for the job and a CV by May 1. Best of luck!