Distinguished Lecture by Professor Cohen

Professor Cohen’s Distinguished Lecture discussed the commonalities between car crashes, train crashes, and Social Media (fails specifically). I liked the analogy between the three different topics because they are all true, but something I had never thought of before.


When discussing car crashes Cohen had two explanations for why people have to get a peek at what happened. The first reason was that there are a lot of risks in life, but this is one way to get really close to a risk but know it is not you. The second reason is that it provides a sense of safety to those not involved. We all hope that everyone involved is okay, but are glad it wasn’t us.


Social Media has changed how brands approach marketing. “Brand” is not an external thing; it is how someone feels about a brand. Simply a brand is the feelings it creates within people. In society we tend to associate a brand with the logo, and think of the brand when we see the logo. This shows that when we see a logo we think of the brand because of the feelings that the marketing has made within us.


The approach has really changed when brands approached Social Media because brands want to create feelings within people that “they are human too.” Brands want to be more human, so they are able to better connect with prospects and customers. One way that brands has started trying to make themselves seem more human, is through blogs and social media responses.


Cohen had a great analogy with Social Media fails and train wrecks; when people and companies are failing off the rails, it is so terrible people just can’t look away. The company, people, and brand are crashing and burning so bad that people just feel and increasingly strong desire to watch.


Social Media fails have taught us that when some brands have tried to be human, they have turned out to appear way more human than what they intended. They catch themselves being apart of conversations just like a normal human, and sometimes we say things that are controversial or out of instinct. This is where “being human” comes into play. Since these brands are being more human mistakes happen. Companies are trying to response to tweets or things happening in the world to seem human, and then they take action or say things that they normally would not.


The analogy and relation between car crashes/train wrecks and social media fails really make everything click for me. I have always been a nib nose when it came to crashes but I never knew why. The analogy allowed me to realize why it is natural for us to feel the way we do about crashes, but also allowed me to make the end connection with social media fails.


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