Pedro Gomez Dishes on Social Snafu

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Pedro Gomez

When you use social media as part of your job, you realize that your career can be made or broken in 280 characters. One of your biggest fears is the dreaded “autocorrect” rearing its ugly head at the worst possible moment.

ESPN’s Pedro Gomez learned firsthand what can happen when your phone gets a mind of its own. Luckily for him, he experienced hilarious consequences. On Monday night while covering the Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Texas Rangers game, there was a power outage due to what meteorologists call a Haboob and what the rest of us call a dust storm. While tweeting an update, Gomez’s phone change ‘Haboob’ to ‘baboon’ and the internet subsequently went ape over it.

“Never in a million years did I think this tweet would take on a life of its own, as it has,” Gomez said. “It’s easily the tweet that has received the most traction on my end and it was completely unintentional.”

When you realize you’ve had a typo your first instinct on Twitter is to get rid of the evidence since there is no edit button. Sometimes it’s too late. That can either be a curse or a blessing in disguise. For Gomez, it was the latter.

“My first reaction was to delete and fix it, but it was already about 10 or 15 minutes old and people seemed to be having so much fun with it, with some even encouraging me to leave it alone, that I decided to keep it and just have fun with it,” the ESPN insider shared. “ I literally could not stop laughing for a few minutes when I read it back at that time. I had zero idea what I’d done.”

What he had done was prove that some of the most fun and unique moments on social media come when brands act less like companies and more like people. Gomez’s baboon snafu gave numerous groups the chance to flex their creative muscle.

“The Phoenix Zoo, D-backs, and Suns were all great,” Gomez said. “But my personal favorite was the one the WeatherNation sent out with a baboon leading the charge in front of the haboob. It was incredibly clever on their part.”

The Phoenix Suns response was pitch perfect. At first, the team’s initial tweet seemed flawed since the Gorilla isn’t a baboon. But it set up the team’s mascot for a fantastic tweet.

The best response though came not from a sports team but actually from the Phoenix Zoo. Despite seemingly having no connection to the situation, its digital team capitalized in a trending topic and made it relevant for the brand.

“No matter what the Phoenix Zoo says,” Gomez said, “I’m still of the belief that it truly was one of their baboons who escaped and they don’t want the negative press coverage so they’re saying theres were all accounted for. I’m not buying it at all.”

All three brands were smart in the way they approached a trending topic.

While some social managers will jump at the chance to get involved in anything there is to talk about, the key is to pick and choose when to engage your audience and gain new followers by being relevant. By adding entertainment or value to a popular conversation you and your brand can find yourselves having 280 characters change things for the better.