VIRAL COMMUNITY: How the viral parking warden video started in a Facebook group… and what we can all learnPosted: July 26, 2018
If you’re not thinking about Facebook groups you’re missing a huge chunk of how the population is consuming the media.
Your corporate page is fine. But the reality is that most people are in groups or following local pages.
Last year, I ran some research on what an average week looked like in a town of 150,000 people. The results blew me away. There were more than 570 groups and pages in the town of Braintree.
But that was a quiet week. How do things play out on Facebook groups and pages in a busy week?
Let’s take the example of the parking warden ticketing the ambulance.
You may have seen it.
A parking warden tickets an ambulance: how it plays out
A private parking warden is issuing a parking ticket parked on double yellow lines outside Tesco in Kingsmead Square, Northwich. The ticket is for a North West Ambulance Service ambulance and its crew remonstrate that they haven’t had a break since early morning and eight hours later they are buying water. Their vehicle is too big for a parking bay, they say.
Facebook escalates it
A passer-by sees the incident play out, films it and intervenes, calls the warden ‘an idiot’ and uploads the video to the Northwhich Life Facebook group which has 23,000 members. This video alone is shared 158,000 times with 995 comments and 26,000 reactions.
But that’s the start of it. It gets picked up from the group by other news outlets and Facebook groups and pages.
In 43 hours, the video is ripped and re-posted more than 30 times with those new videos being shared 5,359 times with 7,477 comments.
Who shares it? ITV, BBC and a whole lot of newspapers that don’t cover Northwhich. Step forward Banbury Guardian, Mansfield Chad and Northampton Chronicle. Yahoo News and others further afield share it, too.
BBC and ITV local news boost the figures to more than two million views. You can see the ITV clip here.
The media story plays out
On Google Trends, the search term ‘ambulance parking ticket’ goes from zero to 100,000 in a day.
As Google News shows, the story is picked up quickly by the wider news media and an appearance on ITV’s Good Morning from a representative of the parking industry didn’t play out well for the industry.
The parking company didn’t issue the ticket. But things escalate anyway. Things are out of control.
London Cambridge Properties, who own the site where the parking attendant was contracted to patrol, issued a statement on the web and more than 24-hours later on Twitter to their 1,300 followers attracting one retweet, two likes and no comments in the first three hours it was posted. The West Midlands-based company’s LinkedIn page was unchanged.
And then things get a bit weird
On Facebook, there’s abuse for the parking warden. Heaps of it and some of it is borderline racist. There are comments calling for the warden to be sacked and far worse. When a mob forms – online or offline – it’s never nice.
And council Facebook pages get people complaining. Even though they’re in another part of the country.
And the memes start.
What we can learn from this
Anyone can shoot video with their smartphone and post it online.
It starts with one Facebook group and gets shared.
Things escalate out of control quickly.
When things escalate you can quickly lose any pretense of control of the issue.
Your response on Facebook needs to be on Facebook and in a shareable format.
You need to communicate swiftly.
There are many organisations in the frame here. Tesco. The landowners, the parking enforcement company and the ambulance trust.
If you have frontline public facing people they need to be well trained and have an expectation that they will be filmed in the despatch of their job. With that in mind, basic media training skills for public-facing staff are essential. Uppermost is how to respond if someone starts to film them.
When things escalate your staff can expect a duty of care from you as an employer.
EDIT: Cheshire police officer and Twitter vlogger @sgtTCS has gone through the incident from a police officer’s perspective here.
Train stations are emotional places. You say goodbye. You say hello. You lose a shoe getting onboard and get stranded in the rain.
It was raining. How was the poasenger going to reach somewhere where she could get a replacement pair?
Through Twitter, London Euston’s account spotted the problem and offered a solution.
@Accessorize sell shoes at Euston. We can pick you up in one of our assistance buggies and bring you up to save you getting wet. Let us know and I’ll organise. Which coach you in? ^JH pic.twitter.com/cYQXqZyYHj
— London Euston (@NetworkRailEUS) March 15, 2018
An assistance buggy would pick up the passenger at the carriage door on arrival before taking her to a shoe shop. Beautifully simple and entirely human.
A cherry on top of the cake was the human tweet from Birmingham New Street.
Customer service at its best! Great work @NetworkRailEUS
We are proud to call you our sister Station ^EK https://t.co/JRiITfTtQx
— Birmingham New Street (@NetworkRailBHM) March 15, 2018
Thanks Madeleine Sugden for spotting this.
At the Association of Police Communicators event in Grantham I bumped into someone I hadn’t seen for a while After exchanging pleasantries, I asked what was keeping them busy.
A conversation that challenged
“Actually, I’m wondering about taking digital out of communications altogether. Because it should really be in other parts of the business too.”
They then spoke about the £70,000 they’d saved someone else through a digital process.
There’s a good point there. But take digital comms out of comms? It’s good to be challenged.
There’s certainly no point in having a lovely piece of digital communications on a wider process that’s a bit rubbish. Or for comms people to sit in a room and never talk to anyone or be involved with anything.
A paragraph that chimes
Then I read this from the digitally talented Sarah Lay who left her local government job recently.
For you see all communications and communicators should now be digital – they should be equipped with the skills and knowledge to work to the demands of digital, often as the primary channel. But digital is not purely communications – it is also customer service, it is IT and technology, it is behaviour and analytics, it is marketing and product / service development.
It’s that thing again.
Don’t just communicate for the sake of it. Work out why you are communicating then measure it. That way you can look finance in the eye.
Definitely developing new skills.