Who stole Dave Bing’s Twitter?
If there’s one thing we’ve learned from President Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign, it’s that social media is just as important, if not more important than all other forms of advertisement. With this in mind, I took it upon myself a few years ago to get into the political game. No, I didn’t run for office, no I didn’t publicly endorse any one candidate. What I did was tweet. And that experiment is one of several topics TM Social Media Manager Michael L. Hoffman, PR and Communications Expert Dario Chiarini and myself discuss in this week’s TM podcast.
In 2009, after former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick left office in disgrace, there was an election for a new mayor and I decided to do my part. I registered several Twitter accounts for the candidates, on my own volition, such as Dave Bing, Ken Cockrel Jr. and Freeman Hendrix. But the one that took off was Dave Bings (@davebing). Within the course of just a few months, the @davebing account had gathered more than 10,000 followers, all of which thought I was Dave Bing. In fact, this @davebing account was quoted as saying, “We just need new leadership. The city of Detroit had a lot of oysters but no pearls for a long time,” in a May 17, 2009 Detroit Free Press article entitled, “Social site become political tool.”
When I decided to take up the task of operating a Twitter account under the guise of Mayor Bing’s persona, I did so without malice. But this still leads us to proper reputation management. Bing’s team did nothing, literally nothing, to obtain ownership of the @davebing account. And in December 2009, after several attempts to contact his team, I wrote the mayor a letter, which read:
The reason I am contacting you today is because I would like to consult and manage – free of charge – web marketing and social media for you through your term. My motivation is to raise the profile of small, entrepreneurial companies such as mine that are working to diversify the economy in Southeast Michigan and create new jobs. Being a native Detroiter and DAC member I was happy to finally see a qualified, honest individual step up to turn our city around.
Still, I never heard anything back from the Bing camp. No phone call, no email or no letter. But around Christmas of 2009, the @davebing account had been closed and a new one had been registered, which actually has less followers than mine did. But what should we take away from this? Was it right to operate a Twitter account as another person? Probably not. But it shows how important it is for you, as a company, brand or public figure, to monitor your online reputation. I could have done a lot of damage has @davebing, which shows how easily it is to get duped online, and why it’s crucial that your image is protected on the Web.