This week Niall Harbison blogged his way into a corner when he published this stereotypical and tired Southside view of those who live in Dublin’s Inner City.
This passage has since been deleted from the article.
(see end of blog for further links).
The flippant tone that got him to where he is today (Co-Founder of the highly successful Simply Zesty, Co-Founder of PRSlides and Fonder of Lovin’ Dublin) has turned on him and damaged but not killed his online street cred.
From politicians to celebrities, there are many examples of people wounding themselves on-line but what sets Mr. Harbison’s case apart from theirs is that his accomplishments in business were achieved through the power of Social Media. Perhaps he should have known better.
Social Media is still finding its feet, like that giant toddler in Honey I Blew up the Kid, it is a marvel to watch it grow so rapidly but anyone in its path can be crushed under its weight. This week’s events in Dublin prove that even the leading users of social media need to watch their step.
While all businesses need to take calculated risks to survive (the act of setting up a business is a risk in itself), there is a difference between a risk taker and an unchecked ego. Certainly an ego is something you need in the boardroom but it is a different matter when it comes to dealing with the public. It is even more and vitally important to keep that ego in check to avoid ending up stuck to the dirty shoes of the toddler that is Social Media. Every day those shoes are getting crustier.
The fact that Mr. Harbison did not have the wisdom and self-awareness to re-read and delete that offending sentence does not just mean that that he misjudged his audience it also proves the importance of business experience. He has taught himself a lesson in caution, one that another of an older generation with a few more years’ knowledge of content creation might have avoided.
Individuals with huge online presences, (blogs, twitter or Facebook accounts) are akin to celebrities with massive fan bases. They need to remember that this reach comes with a certain amount of responsibility and this will become more important in the future.
Still, I don’t think that Lovin’ Dublin nor Niall Harbison have dealt themselves any kind of mortal injury. Why? The demographics of Social Media are such that they will be forgiven in the long run. Many of the older generations will see his fault as unforgivable (some have openly distanced themselves from the site). The younger generation (growing up with Social media and who are making their own online faux pas) may just see this as a rite of passage.
This issue might provoke private conversations from GenX and older people about the death of online journalism and how different marketing has become while the Millennials may end up talking about mistakes they have made on their own accounts.
Lastly Lovin’ Dublin will survive if they adapt to the storm in this particular canal; the giant toddler of Social Media has a short attention span. We won’t have to wait too long for the next online uproar or maybe a cute video of a kitten licking a mouse will be enough to distract everyone.
Mr. Harbison may have made this error in judgement but he is showing enough Social Media experience by ‘sacking’ himself from writing further blogs on the site (see his apology below) and the Lovin’ Dublin team are dealing with the issue using good Social Media backlash practices. (see below as well).
So if you are working in online marketing and want to continue Lovin’ Social Media remember to pack your bag with experience, calculated risks, a filter with no holes bigger than your ego and understand who your audience is today and who they will become tomorrow (pack a kitten just in case).