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Okay, now before we begin, I want to make it explicitly clear that I’m going to talk about the Twitter account of a banana. Heady intellectualism this ain’t. But something sort of unseemly happened on our fair internet 5 years ago and since it doesn’t seem that anyone else has noticed, I’m going to go ahead and talk about it.

First, a little personal back story. I’ve been vaguely aware of Nannerpuss, aka the Final Boss of the Internet (debatable) for a few years now. However, I was unaware of the origins of this googly-eyed cephalopod until a few days ago. I was reading the Know Your Meme article where I learned that Nannerpuss was part of a Superbowl ad campaign for American restaurant chain Denny’s. I haven’t ever actually watched the Superbowl but in American broadcast advertising, the commercial spots are kind of a big deal.

30 seconds can make or break your brand, leading to massive spikes in sales or nation-wide ridicule of the money wasted on high-profile advertising agencies. 2009 was one of the first years that a successful ad campaign would require a matching social media presence, and with a mascot as absurd and endearing as Nannerpuss, Twitter was the natural place for Denny’s to connect with the bemused public.

And connect they did, with viewers tweeting their admiration and Nannerpuss making strange, breakfast related comments like this one:

Weird, but inoffensive. I’m not sure it would have gotten me in the doors of a Denny’s (only desperation and fatigue will do that these days, I have too much respect for food) but things quickly take a turn that has me scratching my head.

Yeah….no. Wildly inappropriate in this context. Perhaps a standup-comic could make this funny but here it’s not.

Wow, okay, now we have definitely crossed way out of brand-appropriate tweeting. I really don’t have anything to says about this one.

I’ll skip over the drug refereneces since they are neither witty nor funny but cocaine, PCP, LSD and oxycodone are all included. Then shit really goes off the rails with a tone-deaf attempt at political humor: 

And finally, the last tweet from @nannerpuss, which I hope got this person sacked from ever attempting humor ever again: a facile, grade-school gay “joke”:

All of this leaves me terribly confused. What the fuck happened here? Is/was this what Denny’s had in mind? Now, I’m no prude – I love “fuck” as much as the next guy, even in a professional context, but these jokes are just so not funny and borderline offensive I think mostly I am just angry that someone got paid to make them – hopefully 5 years later either their humor has matured or they’ve given up jokes altogether.

In internet years, 2009 was ages ago – Twitter wasn’t even a “thing” yet for most of middle America, so I have to chalk some of this inanity up to  the novelty of the platform and perhaps Denny’s not taking social media marketing for an octopus-shaped banana particularly seriously – and who could blame them? I mean, even I feel a little ridiculous expanding this much energy into talking about it. Still, I’m left with more questions than answers.

Who was @nannerpuss? Why couldn’t Denny’s hire someone funny and not tacky/borderline offensive? Does anyone give a fuck about this besides me? I only know the answer to the last one…

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"Like oil and water"

“Like oil and water”

If you want to build a healthy online community, having a skilled, knowledgeable Community Manager or team on board is essential. Having an employee working on the frontlines with users, building, strengthening and maintaining relationships accelerates the growth of communities and makes for a healthy, vibrant space.

A thriving community is also an invaluable source of feedback on what a business is doing right and where they have room for improvement.

 

So why does is seem that so many businesses hire Community Managers only to have them do social media marketing? In this emerging field, I think there’s still a fair bit of confusion about what exactly community management is and isn’t.

Sure, a good Community Manager can juggle community building work alongside growing likes, tracking “clicks” and other social media marketing metrics, but I’m of the opinion that’s a waste of valuable talent.

In many situations, the community manager is asked to wear a lot of hats, especially when staff is small, but for many CM’s (myself included) marketing and advertising duties are not where our interests lie. Good community managers are concerned with things like the behavioral economics of online interaction and the psychology of decision-making, but in a fundamentally different way than someone coming from a marketing perspective.

Have your interns delete spam from the blog. Ask the marketing department to “craft tweets”. Facebook likes can be easily bought, Twitter followers too – these are increasingly meaningless numbers and having your community manager focus on these things is at the expense of your community’s potential – and probably your community manager’s morale too.

Use your community team where they have the most real impact: in community facing spaces, building relationships 1-on-1 with your users. Leave marketing to the marketers.

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