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Sometimes being perfect is difficult. Especially when you’re burdened with a ‘name’ in a particular industry – like digital. You need to offload some of that excellence because, poor you, you’re just human. Every now and then it’s good to slum it with plebs. And, if you work in comms, here’s a good start:

Take on and then screw up a perfectly good social media campaign. In case you’re too sublime to know how to achieve screw-up status, here’s a guide:

1. Make sure you’re conducting a campaign with parameters (like budget, requirements and deliverables) you’ve never used or even seen before. It’s better if you can secure one that’s worth billions but if you can’t, millions will do.

TIP: Find a wealthy older woman to provide all of funds – out of her own pocket. Assure her that, from the millions she’s investing, she’ll make more millions.

2. Outsource all work on the job you’ve never done before to people who’ve never done it before. And whom you’ve met once. Leave them ‘free’ to run with it.

TIP: Hire journalists and students as your social media managers. After all, it’s just words. Your 19-year-old cousin got an A for English in Matric. Get her in.

3. Put together a competition with an absolutely jaw-dropping prize. Good: Give away a cruise. Better: Give away a luxury yacht. Best: Give away a luxury yacht that is also a submarine, a jet plane and a rocket ship.

TIP: The more you hard sell the amazing-ness of the prize, the faster you’ll hit rock bottom. Keep this in mind for later.

4. Make everyone think the competition is available in his or her own country. Then add a disclaimer, in very small print, or on a hidden page, excluding destinations.

TIP: Choose easily offended countries. For example, state in big letters that anyone in Ireland can enter. Unless they’re in Northern Ireland [small letters].

5. The easiest way to make even a well-intended social media competition crash and burn is to ensure that it’s just too complicated to actually enter.

TIP: Ask entrants to go through seven steps on 12 different platforms, including actual post (yes, with paper and an envelope) before their entry is accepted.

6. Remember the billions that the rich old lady gave you to cover your UBER-AWESOME prize? Spend at least 80{7aef4e5c6853be3cc4d057a807069aa9f2ae8fd184061eb63ea53e14fedec9bd} of it on TV adverts.

TIP: In your quest for failure, make sure you pick a TV channel that no one actually watches. Like Parliament TV. Or the Weather Channel.

7. Set up a ‘help’ e-mail address so that people have somewhere to send their queries/questions/bitches/gripes. Don’t panic though: you’re never going to check it. Instead you’re going to invent a customer service employee named Dave.

TIP: Blame Dave for everything. Especially if your large retainer is in danger.

8. As part of the entry process, tell entrants they need to share to get ‘votes’ from friends and family. Don’t tell them how to do this. And make sure the sharing functionality is highly buggy, just to add in an element of surprise.

TIP: When they ask, direct them straight to Dave.

9. Go on holiday. Facebook will be there when you get back. Why worry?

TIP: Make it a 4-week vacation to an island devoid of internet or cell phone reception.

10. Find a tragic disaster that relates to your competition. Like a plane crash. Complain bitterly about not having footage of said disaster for ‘publicity reasons’.

TIP: Contact people who are emotionally involved in the tragedy. Beg them for footage. Bribe them if you have to.

By now, your social media competition should be the digital equivalent of Mickey Rourke’s latest face. If it’s not, here’s a final touch: Pretend that all of this mayhem was an accident. Commiserate with inferior beings about how you’re not perfect, about being ‘just human’, and about Dave being a tool. Carry on with your life.

(Originally published on

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