India is a country driven by sentiment. Generally, we tend to overlook pressing issues like climate change or poverty whenever our celebrity demi-gods are involved.
For the uninitiated, Tanmay Bhat is an Indian comedian who used Snapchat's "facemorph" feature to pass some satire comedy (and I use the term loosely) to poke fun at two Indian icons, cricketer Sachin Tendulkar and legendary singer Lata Mangeshkar. The videos caused such an uproar that Tanmay has been threatened with legal action and even death threats. Here are 5 key takeaways from this entire episode you can apply to your social media efforts.
1. Reputation is all you have.
To quote Warren Buffet,"It takes 20 years to build a reputation and 5 minutes to ruin it".
When you put your brand or yourself on social media, you are creating a reputation for yourself and, your audience who loves you for your style will consume your content however, if you hurt their sentiment, all countless hours of effort goes to waste.
2. Intentionally instigating others.
In an earlier article I mentioned that "picking fights" is a risky move and I've noticed quite a few brands use this approach. It could work but if it doesn't, the repercussions could be catastrophic. Instigation is never a smart move, it's always better to focus on your own message.
3. Controversy is good for everyone else except you.
After this episode, regardless of the outcome, brands will be hesitant to work with Tanmay given the negative publicity generated by this content and it is a feeder for media outlets (including this post!) unfortunately we live in a world where people kick you when you are down so it's imperative that you don't put yourself there.
4. Never underestimate sentiment.
Sentiment hits your audience at a very deep, personal level. It is a very powerful tool to use provided your message resonates with them. In this case, it's only a few creating huge noise but that noise is large enough (in this case) to incite national outrage.
5. Have multiple level checks before posting your content.
Agreed Tanmay is an individual with the right to express his views or his art however when you represent a company, it's usually bigger than a single individual as, there is more on the line that an individual's name. It's always better to err on the side of caution when you are in a position of influence not only for you but, for the people who depend on you.
In my personal opinion, I think this episode is a larger commentary on how overtly sensitive our society is becoming. Social media equips everyone to have a voice and chances are, you're not going to like everything you hear or see. Everyone is human and in the spur of the moment we can and have made rash decisions. The important thing however, is to always be conscious about the repercussions of your voice.
I am a fan of the AIB and I hope to see more of their work in the future but I hope this is a lesson for all of us to use our voice on social media wisely.