The Problem With Social Media In the Modern Age…

“The problem is that social media in the modern age has hardened us and turned us into hanging judges. It’s made us forget that we’re all a mix of talents and flaws and sins.”

— Jon Ronson, New York Magazine


When Bad Social Media Content Happens to Your Favorite Brand

Call me a marketer naive, but I love believing in a brand’s promise.

I enjoy the voices they create and the consistency across channels ranging from Facebook to TV to in-store. One of my favorite brands is MZ Wallace and while I do not need another purse, I will open every email I ever get sent from them, just to admire and dream. MZ Wallace is SO New York and SO professional working woman. All their collateral conveys that you can be a hot shot boss and look fabulous while doing it.  DING DING – count me in.

I want my brands to be authentic, consistent across platforms, and tell me a story I can believe in. Okay, so according to most research, call me a millennial.

While I’ve managed multiple brands’ social media presences ranging from Vaseline to, interacting with brands on social never gets old to me. It’s a fun game and, typically, a delight.

Except when it’s done so disastrously, I question my loyalty to one of my favorite brands:

Benefit Cosmetics, WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!

For those of you unfamiliar with Benefit, it’s an upscale cosmetics brand sold in department stores like Nordstrom as well as Sephora and Ulta. It’s also part of the very high-class French luxury goods conglomerate, LVMH, that also owns Marc Jacobs Beauty, Fresh and Parfums Christion Dior, amongst others.

 Check out Benefit’s website homepage below:

Benefit Cosmetics

It’s style is cute and 60’s vintage, and often has sassy feminist dialogue. It’s currently promoting a new  product of theirs called “Puff Off” that they say will tell one’s undereye puffiness to do just that.

The design and brand name is perfect – I’d love to tell my under eye puffiness to do just EXACTLY, especially  on days when I have migraines. Probably I want to tell them to F-off, but Puff Off is surely more polite.

I’m sure Benefit has their own words they use to describe themselves, but if I had to pick, I’d say: Wise,  Sweet, Sassy, Empowering, Cute, and Accessible.

Most importantly, I trust them. They aren’t telling me I’ll look like a celebrity if I suddenly use their product.  But, that I’ll probably look cute. A reasonable goal.

So, I was particularly perplexed when, as I was watching the #brandbowl unfold on Twitter, I saw Benefit  tweeting to…McDonalds’?McDonald’s was definitely playing  a great game on Super Bowl Sunday (disclosure: I used to work at GolinHarris which helped run their program) and their Twitter presence was unstoppable – earning them nods from AdWeek, Twitter and more. But – they’re not a partner brand to Benefit. They just deflate Benefit’s value.

Screen Shot 2015-02-08 at 2.53.52 PM

Let’s get real: McDonald’s a fast food company that probably wouldn’t be allowed in any of the stores where Benefit is sold. Plus, Benefit’s tweet feels like they’re pandering for attention, to be part of the conversation.

Counter it to their response to the Victoria Secret commercial, which felt much more authentic:

Benefit Victoria Secret


I actually wrote Benefit on Twitter, asking why they were tweeting with McDonald’s and their response was, “We’ve got love for everyone! 😉 xo.”

Um, what? No way. See their website image above – they certainly don’t have love for everyone.  But, the SuperBowl is a crazy night for brands with all hands on deck, so I let it go. A one-off, surely. And, then yesterday . . . I saw the below:


YIKES. It’s tacky, on the verge of risqué and absolutely not empowering. Basically, it’s saying that if I want to get lucky on Valentine’s day, I need a wax. It’s the polar opposite of their tagline, that “laughter is the best cosmetic.” Not to mention that if you took away the brand name, you’d have absolutely no idea which brand this was coming from. I can maybe see the image working (with different copy), but it should have been with their wax mannequin, that they also frequently employ. In terms of fan’s reactions, on Instagram, it received about 10K fewer likes than their typical posts. It did produce more conversation, which ranged from positive to negative.

Many of their social posts are great, as I’ve researched further. But, it only takes a couple off-brand posts to do damage to a brand’s reputation and trust.

What do you think? Do your favorite brands feel authentic on social? And, do their pages make you love them more? Or, less?