While checking my twitter feed yesterday afternoon, a post from Hillary Clinton caught my eye.
How does your student loan debt make you feel?
Tell us in 3 emojis or less.
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) August 12, 2015
My first reaction: Oh, that’s not going to go over well.
My second reaction? …But it could be good for the right social media presence.
My first reaction was prescient. Despite getting some earnest responses (which the campaign then retweeted), the negative comments were much more prominent. Grammarians had a field day with the idea that it’s ‘fewer’ emojis, not ‘less’. Those same folks also brought up that the word emoji is a plural, although the AP stylebook says emojis is the correct usage for more than one whimsical character.
But, perhaps the most misguided aspect of the tweet can best be summed up in another preferred millennial form of communication—the GIF. The Clinton campaign made the mistake that many a sitcom parent has made: Using the hip new thing the kids are into to break the ice to try to start a meaningful conversation. PR Daily did a great piece on this very trend, with this great summary of brand authenticity (emphasis ours):
Too many organizations are getting the definition of authenticity absolutely wrong.
Essentially—and, one would hope, unsurprisingly—authenticity is about being who you say you are, doing what your marketing says you do, and, in an age of transparency, giving customers the ability to scratch the surface and see that your gold bracelet is solid the whole way through.
Hillary Clinton has an impressive resume. She has been First Lady of both Arkansas and the United States. She has served as a Senator and as Secretary of State. She is a mother and grandmother. Odds are, she might throw a <3 emoji into a text to her daughter, but probably isn’t using too many emojis in her day-to-day communication. It’s not a bad thing; it’s who she is. If she were a retailer marketing to teens or young adults, it might ring more true. (But, as the phenomenal @BrandsSayingBae points out, even organizations catering to young consumers can rely on these tactics too often.)
If the Clinton campaign tweeted the same question about student loan debt asking users to share howthey feel about student loans in three words, most users wouldn’t have thought it out of character for the candidate. But the post would not have drawn nearly as much attention—either positive or negative. It was a calculated risk for the campaign. But because it was so inauthentic to Clinton’s brand, I don’t think it paid off.
But, as the candidate herself said in reply to the controversy: ¯_(ツ)_/¯
What do you think of Clinton’s tweet? Drop us a line on Twitter! (You can express your thoughts via emojis or words.)