Boaty McBoatface

 

I was suggesting earlier competitions can be a powerful tool to engage audience in social media. However, control of the message and understanding of the audience are always key components, as what happened recently at the Natural Environmental Research Council (NERC) can show. NERC’s attempt of engaging the public by adding a poll via social media to name their new boat was successfully hijacked lending now the organisation in a sticky situation: at the closing of the polls yesterday in fact “Boaty McBoatface”, a suggestion from BBC radio host James Hand, reached four times the number of votes more appropriate and sensible choices such as ‘Poppy-Mai’, named after a 16-month-old girl with incurable cancer or ‘David Attenborough’. Hand has since apologised to  NERC. This is a case where social media polls and engaging the public could go wrong.

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