There’s no doubt that events like Comic Con and Comikaze build fans’ frenzy for superheroes, the supernatural and all manner of matters fantasy. These conventions, for Hollywood, also have proven fantastic venues to hype and promote big-money producing comic-themed movies and TV shows, providing Tinseltown marketers and producers a choice opportunity to connect with die-hard comic fans and other influential consumers. Which is why some alarms must have sounded here on the West Coast over the possibility that overzealous East Coast event sponsors might spook this special and specialized audience of convention-goers, as occurred at New York Comic Con with a surprising dust-up over privacy and social media.
To the shock of fans, celebrities and media, their accounts began to Tweet last week in laudatory fashion about the annual Manhattan convention. Problem was these social media posts seemed to have been “ghost written” — they were sent out by the event without attendees’ permission or knowledge. The situation looked like this on Twitter:
It seems conference-goers had been bewitched by their event badges: ReedPOP, this year’s event sponsor and promoter, had gotten their Gotham guests to pre-register online, and, when they did so, they were invited to link their social-media accounts, like Twitter and Facebook, with their badges, which were equipped with radio-frequency emitting chips. Guests weren’t told that sponsors would tap into their badges and accounts to promote their attendance at the event and ComicCon never specifically disclosed exactly how it was able to hijack their social media. This, of course, is the ultimate geek group and disgruntled fans quickly discovered “New York Comic Con” applications under the settings section of their Facebook and Twitter accounts. That led to numerous complaints and an apology from the conference, which shut down its social media “service.” This, however, did little to hush the online buzz about privacy concerns and complaints of unwanted intrusions into comic fans’ social media.
So, poof, public relations practitioners and event planners, take heed and holster that great ideas wand: Zapping into conference-goers’ social media via their broadcasting event badges might seem magical for one moment. It appears it isn’t, unless, perhaps, there’s informed consent by your tech savvy crowd. And if that planned social media trick turns a hall full of adoring, costumed comic fans into a gnarly, broom-riding mass marching on your castle with torches burning, too, well, don’t forget that unhappiness in the comic-fantasy crowd also could rile the ultimate Bigfoot among convention-goers — the big-spending Hollywood types, upset that their ideal and idyllic promotional spot has been despoiled.