A view from Russell Davies

Product launches could turn your brand into one big joke on social media

Telling someone about your Twitter feed is like telling them about your dreams. But please forgive me, because that’s where this story starts.

One day last week, various jokes began to show up in my Twitter feed. Something to do with Sony. It became clear from these jokes that Sony was announcing the PlayStation 4 at a very, very long press conference. There were many jokes about it being a two-hour announcement that didn’t even show the actual console or tell you how much it would cost. When I woke up the next morning, to more of the same jokes, I realised there was something slightly new going on here and that it’s going to take businesses a while to figure it out.

The public will point out that everyone on the stage is male, they will point out everything you've done wrong

Once upon a time, companies just launched things to their trade press. They would put on a bit of a show, do a demo and that would be that. The journalists were there because it was their job to cover it. They would filter out most of the nonsense and pass along the important stuff to their readers. Everyone was happy. But then Apple turned these launches into things everyone was interested in, broadcast live on the web. (Not "everyone" – but you know.) So every business wanted to be as talked about as Apple, and so they started launching things on the web too.

Unfortunately, they’d forgotten that the public is a demanding audience. (Especially a public gazing at  you via a website, without having benefited from your free drinks.) They’ve not seen a thousand of these things before. They’re not used to the speeches and pronouncements. The public will point out that everyone on the stage is male, that the marketing director speaks nonsense, they will point out everything you’ve done wrong, and the sarcasm of the crowd will ensure the most devastating insult will get repeated the most. They’re a tough crowd. And that’s how your launch will look on social media.

It’s the same lesson we need to keep learning. There’s no point having divisions between internal and external. Everything’s public – and that means everything needs to be good.

Russell Davies is a creative director at Government Digital Services