Susan Boyle is pretty well known, not just in Britain but in America as well. Since April 2009 when she debuted on ‘Britain’s Got Talent’, singing ‘I Dreamed a Dream’ from Les Miserables, she has gone on to produce several hit albums and has amassed a fortune approaching $50m.
Her debut album, also also called ‘I Dreamed a Dream’ and released in 2009 is Britain’s best-selling album of all time. It was also nominated for a Grammy, as indeed was her 2010 follow-up album, ‘The Gift’.
Her success on BGT also received attention due to the marked and clearly visible difference in public reaction between Boyle’s audition when she first appeared on stage and that at the audition of Paul Potts the previous year. Potts was a relatively plain looking middle-aged man, Boyle a relatively plain looking middle-aged woman. But the audience were significantly more hostile towards Boyle before she even sang a note than they were to Paul Potts.
However, Boyle has now reached a level of personal success where she can afford laugh at those things that a few years ago might have been desperately hurtful…..such as the manner in which her PR Team chose to promote her new 2012 album on Twitter. Entitled ‘Standing Ovation: The Greatest Songs from the Stage’ the album was released November 13 and, as part of the pre-release promotion activity, a Q&A session and “album listening party” was planned. This was, quite naturally, promoted to her thousands of followers on Twitter.
Unfortunately, the hashtag chosen for the event was capable of being misread, and “Susan Album Party” became #susanalbumparty. Despite her twitter team hastily changing the hashtag to #SusanBoyleAlbumParty, the damage had been done, the twitterverse exploded with laughter and #susanalbumparty trended without delay.
It has been speculated that this was a deliberate ploy from Ms Boyle’s marketing team, but the fact that they did not respond to questions and changed it so quickly leads me to believe that it was a snafu. However, there can be little doubt that the tweet reached many people that it ordinarily would not have reached, including me.
In the meantime, Ms. Boyle probably laughed all the way to the bank, particularly in view of the fact that, just days after the hashtag gaffe, it was announced that Fox Searchlight have bought the rights to her story and plan a biopic in 2013.
Lesson: Our language has become increasingly mangled by urban sayings, littered with acronyms and abbreviations to allow it to conform with format requirements. Content managers and marketers need to read and re-read anything that does not use proper punctuation to make sure they’re not setting themselves up for 15 minutes of infamy. With hashtags, use upper case characters to clarify meaning if needed. And when someone tells you that punctuation does not matter, explain to them how in the modern world it matters more than ever before.