Why Brands (and celebrities) need to quit Twitter Q&A’s

Why Brands (and celebrities) need to quit Twitter Q&A’s
Twitter is one of those places that is just awesome at coming to life when something goes wrong for example:
Dodgy hashtags. Remember when Susan Boyle’s PR team thought it was a great ideal to throw a party for her album? It would have been had it not been for the hashtag they attached to it – #susanalbumparty
Super Injunction and Criminal Cases. It doesn’t matter HOW many times that you tell people spilling the beans on the latest juicy gossip they’ve heard is a bad idea and can get them in to serious trouble – they will still do it – especially on Twitter. Just take Sally Bercow for example, her tweets about Lord McAlpine ended up costing her £100,000 in total (and yet she still hasn’t learned her lesson).

Faux Pas. The twitter community just loves it when someone makes a mistake – and the stupider the mistake, the more twitter LOVES it. Take the girl who asked what Obama’s surname was or the girl who tweeted her new debit card details (along with the security code #facepalm).
Politicians. Quite frankly, twitter is dangerous ground if you’re a politician, just one thing out of place and you’re going to be abused, mocked and in the case of David Cameron who a few months ago thought he was cool posing with his phone (whilst speaking to Obama not less) have celebrities take selfies mocking you in every way possible.
Why Brands (and celebrities) need to quit Twitter Q&A’s 1
And it goes on. Basically, if there is an occasion where people on twitter can show off their sense of humour, their colourful language and just how clever they are with puns and memes then they’re going to go for it.
But if there is one thing that Twitter users really relish it’s when brands and celebrities sit down for a good old question and answer session. Now, we’ve looked and there is very little evidence that any of these Q&A’s have actually worked out the way that PR companies hope they will.
Celebrity and Brand Q&A’s are supposed to let the public get that little closer to their idols or favourite brand names, to allow them to ask any question and learn a bit more about the person hosting. Oh and to promote the latest products, albums and tours of course!
Except 9 times out of 10, these sessions just turn in to a long winded facepalm cycle where people ask hilarious (often intermingled with abusive) questions leaving no space for anyone to care about the answers.
Let’s take the attempt by British Gas for example, they put forward their Customer Services Director, Bert Pijls to answer any questions on the day that they announced prices would be rising 10.4%.
Who knows what kind of tweets they were expecting but they definitely didn’t get them, tweets like @BritishGas When the choice is between food, heat or a roof over your head which one would you choose?#AskBG #disability #poverty
#ASKBG on a scale of one to completely bollocksed how do you think this twitter campaign has gone for you?
Were the more polite amongst them. 
And then there was Gary Barlow. Judging by the fact that he has been involved in almost every single television production and charity event for the past couple of years it was safe to think people may have actually liked him. But when news broke of him and his mates avoiding tax, tables somewhat shifted, so what better time to host a Twitter Q&A, right?
Well, his PR team got that horribly wrong. Instead of being asked about his latest single and his upcoming tour he was bombarded with tweets asking him to “recommend and accountant” or whether when he plays monopoly if he freaks out and gets a bit sweaty when he lands on the income tax space.
So it’s clear that #ASKanybody campaign doesn’t work – which is why we are totally puzzled at how a public relations team would possibly think it a good idea placing Robin Thicke, who it would be fair to describe as the poster boy for misogyny to host a live twitter Q&A.
Whilst his song Blurred Lines was the summer smash of 2013, it also got widely critised for trivialising sexual violence and objectifying women. Things that Twitter users don’t forget. So as you’re already going to guess from the other examples we’ve provided in this blog post, instead of getting questions about his album or what his favourite salad dressing is, it just kicked off and the angry twitter mob continued the trend of Twitter takeovers.
Here are just some of the #AskThicke tweets that flooded in…

Here is our message to any PR who is currently thinking of pitching to their client that an #AskYouAnything campaign would be a good one – don’t.
Twitter is made up of three types of people: The abusive, The people who think they are hilarious and those who just watch and don’t tweet. That’s why Q&A’s never work because you just draw out the first two types and even if your representing Mary Poppins there will still be an angry mob out there who are waiting to take you and your client down.

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