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Brand Failures: Lessons from Facebook Reels

Brand Failures - Carolyn Daughters

Let’s talk about brand failures — the personal kind and the professional kind. Thing is, the personal and the professional are one and the same.

Facebook thinks I like Facebook Reels. My notifications are filled with them. I must have watched one once, after which time Mark Zuckerberg was all, yeah, I got you, Carolyn Daughters.

The truth is that I’m not a fan of the Facebook Reels in my feed, and if I weren’t secretly 97 years old and tech-phobic I would know how to shut off the notifications.

My Problem with (Some) Facebook Reels

Here’s my problem: many of the reels are fake, false, and phony — essentially filmed pitches from frauds. That, and the storytelling is bad. Like, off-the-charts bad. Before I describe why I think many of these videos constitute brand failures, let me describe a couple of the videos in my feed.

In one reel, a woman who’s eight months’ pregnant places a cut-out box over her stomach by way of surprising her husband, back from an eight-month military deployment, with news of their imminent bundle of joy. We’re supposed to believe that during the 492 phone, text, and email conversations the two had over the past eight months, the pregnancy never once came up. I guess it makes sense. Why should it come up when he can find out at the same time as a bunch of randos who, God willing, will become the woman’s burgeoning fan base?

My questions: Was she really pregnant? Did she concoct this farce as her big reveal? Was he truly thrilled to learn she had kept her pregnancy from him for eight months? Exactly how desperate is this woman for fans, fame, money, and more? And do people actually enjoy watching this crap?

Facebook Reels flow on and on. In another, a guy holds up a sign telling us his wife was cheating on him. While his wife washes one (and only one) dish directly behind him for roughly two solid hours, he holds up 491 more signs, setting the scene for the upcoming big reveal. The flashed messages drone on and on: (171) SHE’LL BE SO SURPRISED! (223) SHE DOESN’T SEE THIS COMING! (302) SHE THINKS SHE FOOLED ME! (414) SHE’S ABOUT TO FIND OUT! (492) EVENTUALLY SHE’LL STOP WASHING THAT ONE DISH AND TURN AROUND!

I mentioned this last video to a friend, who informed me (1) that I’m a 97-year-old cultural moron and that (2) hundreds, maybe even thousands, of similar videos exist. (Somebody should have captured my shock and disgust and posted the video to Facebook Reels.)

People are filming fake videos and fake video knockoffs and knockoffs of those knockoffs. Nothing new. Nothing original. Nothing honest or true. More fans, more followers, more fame, and, of course, more money. That’s what lots of people are going for.

The Poster Child for Brand Failures

Remember when a handful of Enron execs sapped the life savings of thousands of their employees? Enron’s 65-page code of ethics said this: “We believe in offering our employees fair compensation through wages and other benefits.” Another line in that massive novella: “[If] companies like Enron do not take active steps to adopt preventive policies and procedures covering securities trades by company personnel, the consequences could be severe.”

Severe, indeed.

Here’s the deal: Kenneth Lay, Jeffrey Skilling, and the accountants at Arthur Andersen weren’t delightful do-gooders who just so happened to wipe out billions in pensions and stock prices from Enron employees and shareholders.

Your business brand is your personal brand. They’re one and the same. I’m not going to mince words here. Any number of businesses feed people BS in their code of ethics, in their value proposition, on Facebook Reels, and just about everywhere else in order to fool them into buying what they’re selling.

But that’s not you.

In today’s ultra-competitive marketplace, everyone’s trying to capture attention any way they can. Many companies say what they think they need to say and do what everybody else is doing. Your real distinguishing mark, though, isn’t how well you can do what everybody else is doing and blend in with the pack — it’s who you are at your core and what value you provide. Consider making 2022 the year you build new and better brand — one that both attracts your tribe and reflects a newer, even better you.


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