Better than ourselves

Last week in Portugal ended with quite the fiery discussion about two supposed "social media crisis". They started as niche discussions. Then they went viral. Suddenly everyone started talking about it, including mainstream media, and the thing escalated. You know the drill.

I'm not going into details about any of those cases. As in many other situations there are those who defend what the brand did (or didn't) and those who think it wasn't quite right. While I thought in both cases both brands could have better handled the situation, that's not really the point.

Things calmed down, even if people are still talking about it. But one can say overall we've moved on. As for the brands there were two different consequences. One of them withdrew the poorly received campaign and issued an apology. The other one also apologized for a reply on Facebook which led to the whole "crisis" in the first place. The fan post in which it originally occurred was removed by the fan himself. The difference? The second brand is actually getting raving fan posts saying they are the best for having the balls to reply the way they did. I was humbled and proud to see such a phenomenon. And I was wrong to think the community wouldn't stand up for the brand in this case.

This post, of course, isn't about which brand is right and which is wrong and what should you do to prevent such events. It's about the power of recognizing a mistake and giving credit. After both these episodes started gaining traction, everyone had an opinion about what each brand should do or should have done. And that's fine as long as people are informed about what they're talking about.

I was following a specific thread involving industry peers discussing the issue. Suddenly, what was supposed to be a healthy discussion led to personal attacks and off-the-point arguments. Suddenly, this wasn't about the brands. It was about whose interpretation was right and why the rest was wrong. Who was the best analyst. Who was actually the best one juggling all sorts of buzzwords read on some marketing blog. An industry publication even published a digital agency CEO's words saying other agencies simply didn't know what they were doing. In his words, all they had were poorly paid kids managing brands on Facebook.

Based on this episode, it seems some people in our industry are not really interested in contributing to the industry. Not all, thankfully. But some actually prefer to hit their own chest and saying "I'm better than all those douchebags". "You're wrong". "You know nothing". "Pick me instead". Thinking and discussing both (ambiguous) cases stopped being the point. They got replaced by pointing fingers and vulture-like behavior. These things say a lot.

The thing about being better is that you actually have to be better than someone or something. No argument there. But we're so blindly focused in being better than everyone else that we stop contributing to the industry at all. We just start looking at our own bellies and saying we have better six-packs than all the other fatsos.

And here lies an important lesson for us all. Everyone would gain if we stopped trying to be better than others and actually started working to be better than ourselves. The difference is in the attitude. And everything starts right there. If we focus on being better than ourselves, we're adding something worth discussing. If we focus on saying other people's work is crap, we're merely subtracting. Yes, we should pinpoint what's wrong. But maybe we should also start teaching each other what's right. It's easy to say other people's work is crap and that in comparison ours is great. But if we're better than crap, how good are we really?