Two quick lessons from the Benadryl social pollen count incident

Earlier today UsVsTh3m published a tiny post illustrating that we’d drawn one piece of rude graffiti on the Benadryl social pollen count app, and then explicitly said we hoped nobody would do the same. But they did. In spades. And much bigger and ruder than we did. And then it made the front page of the Daily Star website and got written up by The Drum and someone wrote a bot to do it even faster and ZOMG you guys & gals on the internet always go too far etc etc…

Two things stood out for me:

Handled with class

I think Benadryl have turned a social media #fail into a social media #win with the way they’ve handled it. They’ve taken down the app, and put in its place a thank you message in the style of the way it was being abused. Fair play. It is always best for brands to try and handle this sort of situation by firstly stopping the problem happening, and secondly, showing a bit of humour. I bet their social media and marketing teams have had a rotten day today—sorry—but that was a classy way to respond.

Benadryl thank you message

Moderation. Moderation. Moderation.

When the team at Benadryl were trying to repair the damage earlier, it looked like they were having to manually unpin enough detail from each bit of graffiti to render the words unreadable and the shape unrecognisable. Tedious, no doubt. That’s one of the reasons when you are building user-generated content propositions or crowd-sourcing something, you have to plan for the worst-case scenario, and have the workflow to quickly recover from it. Always expect people to crudely abuse any open system on the web.

As Applegate’s Law states:

“Over time, the probability of someone drawing a cock with your UGC app approaches one.”

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