Don’t Take A Nosedive – Social Media Lessons From Black Mirror

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard about Charlie Brooker’s haunting show ‘Black Mirror’, even if you haven’t seen it yourself. A haunting series, each episode puts an aspect of human nature and technology under a microscope. It looks at technology as if it was a drug, and examines the side effects it would have on our society, as how we interact with each other. The series has been highly commended for it’s realistic scrutiny and introspective views on the human condition. And one of the big topics Brooker examines is social media, and its effect on how we behave. So if you’re in marketing, or even just run a social media account, you’re going to want to pay attention.

Cue the season three opening episode – Nosedive. This episode is centred around a woman names Lacie. In this version of our world, each person is ranked on a scale of one to five, with each and every social interaction ranked, no matter how trivial. Your overall ranking affects how you’re treated by those around you, whether or not you can access certain items, and if your score dips too low you can find yourself completely ostracised. Lacie is stuck at a 4.2 rating, and is trying to raise her score to 4.5 so that she can access a high-class social class. During her desperate drive to achieve higher, she finds herself – and her score – taking a nosedive instead. This is because she does a few things wrong and makes some basic mistakes, which many businesses on social media today are guilty of. But it’s not all doom and gloom. Here’s what we can learn:

Don’t Be Desperate

In Nosedive, all Lacie wants is to achieve a coveted 5-star rating so that she can live in an exclusive apartment complex. She even hires a personal analytics advisor to help her get there, who gives her some advice to slowly increase her rankings over the next 6 month. But Lacie only has a few weeks to achieve her goal, so she goes out of her way to impress a 4.6 she sees every day. But she is so obviously desperate, the woman only gives her a 3 rating. Her advisor tells her; ‘don’t try too hard, it’s impossible to respect’  and we couldn’t agree more. Throughout the episode, Lacie is so painfully desperate for that rating that she does everything she can to get it. This is something we see all the time in business owners. Spamming inboxes with messages, pushing out pushy sales messages to people who don’t relate to your product and badmouthing the competition will all lead to unlikes, unfollows and lost business.

Be Your Own, Authentic Self

Throughout Nosedive, we see Lacie in her everyday environment, and every interaction, post and response is carefully planned and calculated. She spends hours practising her laugh in the mirror, curates her online life to earn points and pretends to be someone she’s not – all to achieve that higher ranking. Her analytics advisor gives her the same advice I’m going to give you - ‘authentic gestures, that’s the key’. Research has shown that an overwhelming number of customers want the brands they follow to post authentic messages that showcase the real people behind the business, not an obviously pre-planned, ultra perfected false image. This level of authenticity creates brand loyalty and generates sales – which is ultimately the aim for any business. So rather than trying to give your customers what you think they want, let your social media communicate in your own voice.

Numbers Really Aren’t Everything

There are those who believe that unless the numbers support it, it isn’t worth doing. That goes for anything in life, but especially social media. After all, that’s how the ‘like’ farms (where you can buy fake likes and followers) got started. People were trying to play a numbers game, instead of trying to truly communicate with people. Lacie learns over the course of the episode that just because a person has a high ranking, it doesn’t mean they are a good person. The numbers don’t matter – it’s about the soul underneath. So instead of trying to attract new followers and likes, instead try to create content that your followers can really engage with. Forget about the numbers, they aren’t all that important.

Keep Your Cool

When Lacie finally makes it to her best friend’s wedding (despite her friend insisting she doesn’t come because her ranking is too low), she is soaked in mud, sweat and tears. Her dress is torn, her hair is a mess, and she has completely lost all of that calm composure we saw at the beginning of the episode. She gives a truly authentic speech – maybe her first ever – but it’s filled with expletives and rude comments. She shouts, is angry and ultimately gets herself arrested. And she admits that it felt great to let loose and speak her mind after years of frustration and bottling it up. But for a business, that’s career suicide. Your customers may take to social media to complain about your business, spread rumours or generally voice their displeasure – and the best thing you can do is stay professional and composed. Use the negativity to make your organisation shine by dealing with them calmly and effectively – without stopping to their level. If you start flinging accusations and losing your cool, you will only lose more business.

Don’t Discriminate

Sine all interactions in Nosedive are rated, Lacie is worried about the ramifications of associating with people who have a lower score. During her attempts to boost her rating, she runs into Chester, a co-worker who has just been through a break-up. The office is on his ex’s side of the argument, and so his ranking has fallen to just 3.1. At first, Lacie pities him, accepts a smoothie from him and gives him 5 stars. But she quickly finds her own score dips as her co-workers give her low ratings for associating with him. As her quest ramps up, she treats him poorly, not wanting to interact with someone of such a low score. As a result, Chester’s score dips so low that he isn’t allowed inside his own work building. The lesson? Your customers all deserve your equal and dedicated attention, regardless of who they are. It doesn’t matter if they are brand new to twitter and only have one follower, or if they have a ridiculously high Klout score. They each deserve the same levels of high service and respect. After all, word of mouth is a powerful thing, and if a regular customer saw you treating a first-time customer poorly, it will affect their view of your brand. So remember what your mother always said, and be nice to everyone.

At Pickle Marketing, we believe that everyone deserves the chance to shine on social media, regardless of who you are or what you do. The mistakes Lacie made are not new – they happen all the time on social media today, and are made by normal people and big brands alike. Our training workshops and marketing mentoring can help you steer clear of these issues and create a genuine, successful social media presence. To find out more, or to book your free consultation, just get in touch with the team today.

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