Guest Post by: Charlie Osmond

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This week Gordon Brown made a major announcement on YouTube that totally backfired. The UK press has been right to jump on this poor use of social media as a disaster for the Prime Minister. But let’s be clear, this is an example of how not to use a social media tool, it is not an example of the tool being broken.

Brown’s mistake, in this instance, was poor management and a lack of empathy. On a matter dear to the hearts of all MPs - their pay and expenses - rather than consult, he pronounced his verdict. That he used YouTube to do it is a sideshow. But it does provide a valuable lesson.

Social Media tools are just that. In the hand of a craftsman they can achieve great things, but if used in a sloppy manner they will not magically give great results. It’s the same for YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and online communities.

And it’s exactly what I found myself talking about on a Social Media Panel at Internet World Expo this week. There can be an unhealthy obsession with getting a brand page up on Facebook or being sure to have a company Twitter account.

Don’t do it. Unless you have a good reason.
Separately, I noticed that Gordon Brown turned off the ability for viewers to comment on his video. Closing down the conversation - perhaps something purists would rally against. However, I suspect in this case, it was pretty good crisis management. Sure, people took the conversation elsewhere, but it did start to die down.

As ever, we’d be interested to hear your views.

You can watch the video is all it’s glory (including his special smile) here:

Original Post: http://blog.freshnetworks.com/2009/05/gordon-browns-youtube-trauma/

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