I’ve been a fan of the Los Angeles Kings for as long as I can remember. My family went to games at the Fabulous Forum, enjoyed the sport, the players, and the team long before Wayne Gretzky joined the team, and cheered (and cried) when he led the team as close to the Stanley Cup as he did. Winning the Stanley Cup in 2012 was a moment I shared with my brothers and dad – from three countries, two U.S. states, and three time zones. But in one moment, my relationship with the brand was ruined. As a marketer, I know how hard it is to build those relationships. I now know, first hand, how easy it is to lose them too.
When a brand or individual has a guest poster, whether that’s on a blog or social media feeds, it is a representation of the brand and the person you’re handing the keys to, needs to reflect the brand. A fitness blogger wouldn’t let someone who brags about their inactivity guest post, because it simply doesn’t match with their brand. A recipe blogger wouldn’t let someone who doesn’t cook guest post. I could go on and on with examples. Making sure your community, who has signed up for something specific from you, knows about the guest poster and the content the guest is sharing matches with their expectations is key, or your community is given the right to disagree (publicly) and unfollow, without repercussions.
Sadly, my beloved team didn’t let that happen; they let a bully take over.
When the Los Angeles Kings tweeted that Kevin Ryder (of Kevin & Bean fame – a Los Angeles radio show that’s been on for more than 20 years and I find crude and not funny at all) would be taking over their feed during the second period of a playoff game, I replied to the team and said I’d unfollow for the duration. That’s my right. It wasn’t what I expected from the team, it felt like a stunt and I said so. As a fan, I expect news from the team and content about the game from their feed. I expressed that opinion and sadly, the fallout from my expression of my opinion has forever tarnished my relationship with the team.
Spending the second period of a hockey game getting vilified by someone I chose to disagree with, being blasted by people who disagree with me (and that’s their right), calling me names I can’t (and won’t) repeat here, and generally ruining my enjoyment of the game simply because I expressed an opinion, makes them bullies. It attaches the brand to those people, those names, the bullying, and will reflect on the brand, forever.
So if you’re thinking about guest posters for your channels or communities, think hard about who they are, if they fit with your brand, if the content they’re sharing is what your community expects, and whatever you do, DON’T let them attack people for deciding to tune out your content while they’re in charge. They are a reflection of your brand, your brand will suffer the damage if it goes awry, and rebuilding those relationships will likely cost you more than what you gained.
I’ve forever lost respect for the Los Angeles Kings, as a result of Kevin Ryder. I’ve forever lost the love I had for a team because they let a bully take over their feed and didn’t rein him in when he started attacking fans. It’s sad. It really, really bums me out, because the Kings have brought so much to my life over the years, that to lose it in an instant at the hands of someone who isn’t even a member of the team, feels like such a waste.
I know I’m just one fan and who cares if the team loses one fan, right? As a marketer, I know the team should care, because relationships with fans (or readers, or consumers) take time and a lot of effort to build and to have it ruined in an instant means all that effort was wasted. What it would take to rebuild the relationship, is likely more than it ever cost the brand to build it in the first place.
Now excuse me while I go cheer for the San Jose Sharks (oh wow, typing that just pains me).
POSTSCRIPT: It seems I’m not the only one who took issue with the Kings’ decision to hand the keys to the kingdom to Kevin Ryder: Deadspin didn’t think too highly of it. I’m small change compared to that, since I’m sure legions of fans are pissed at the team now. And rightfully so.