Finish This Sentence: Social Media is…


There are a few pitfalls in social media and definitely one of them is to try and force conversations around “finish my sentence….” games. It never ends well – either ignored or turned vile. Here’s some tips and warnings for beginner online community managers. 

Why do companies insist on doing dodgy “campaigns”? We call them community events, or viral spiked activities in online communities. Dodgy meaning completely unrelated to the community values or to the company brand message.

Finish this sentence…

here are the gaffes

  • QANTASAIRWAYS: “To enter tell us ‘What is your dream luxury inflight experience? (Be creative!) Answer must include #QantasLuxury.”
  • COLES: “Finish this sentence: In my house it’s a crime not to buy _______”
  • WOOLWORTHS: Happy weekend everyone! Finish this sentence: this weekend, I can’t wait to: ————,
  • COCA COLA: “Add a word to the person above you to create a happy story!”
  • SAFEWAY: “Finish this sentence: this weekend, I can’t wait to ____”

The answers were wide and varied, often NSFW (not safe for work) and not on topic/brand message. Heigh ho.

When NOT to do a Finish My Sentence Game

  1. When you don’t know your community well
  2. When random strangers can drop in
  3. When it has no real purpose, and you don’t have a “mucking around” relationship with your consumers
  4. When you have a big BIG negative brand issue e.g. supermarkets being seen as pushing around the little guy, or Qantas stranding passengers.
Actually the quick answer is, when you haven’t built community. Shoving out a Tweet or Facebook status update without thinking is naive in the extreme.

When you CAN do a Finish My Sentence game

@Woolworths_SA Finish the Sentence to win a case of Spier Light Merlot! Our Organic Laibach Merlot has won double Gold and Trophy for Best ….. #Woollies Wine

Much better.

  • In the case above, while it’s still on Twitter so out of control (can’t remove comments or trolls like on Facebook) the question is focussed and relevant.
  • Try putting rude words in and it doesn’t seem funny. That’s because you’ve targeted the first part of the “sentence” to a distinct audience.
  • Engage influencers to set and lead preferred behaviour. It’s called behaviour management and they use it in schools with naughty kids AND in online communities. Very similar really 😉
  • Linked it to a reward. A decent one. QantasLuxury got you a pair of pajamas. People might have actually tried to win if it was two First Class tickets around the world.
  • Link it to a relevant outcome e.g. a good story, a nice reward, a not for profit
  • Link it to humour: know your community and your brand. Your community has value systems so does your Brand have a value system. “If I could save the world….” might get you a response better than “In my house…”. Condom companies could be playful and accepting of all responses: “if it’s not on it’s…..” Family supermarkets and banks less so.

Finish my sentence done well:

This guy knew it could end badly but he fed it to an influencer who spoke directly to the community interested in NoReservations.

Anyone who knows me, knows I LOVE Anthony Bourdain, Kitchen Confidentail,No Reservations, etc… Today I tweeted from my personal account:

@MerrittPR: Finish my sentence Friday: “You couldn’t pay me to eat _____ no matter how good @NoReservationssays it is. “

Well, well, well… take a look at who retweeted it, Mr. @NoReservations himself.

Because of Tony’s retweet, there were over a hundred responses, thus prompting him to send me one more tweet, as a commentary on all of the activity around my finish-my-sentence-Friday post…

Last Words

Over the years I’ve watched the community play “Add a word to the person above you to create a happy story!” many many times. We have one going on at the moment in a health community where they are mucking around with movie titles and feeding off the comment above. But it’s community driven, not Admin/Mod driven. That’s a big difference. And they squeal at anyone trying to be “funny”….
And finally. Finish my sentence: Social Media is…

website design


  • C.Lucia

    Reply Reply March 13, 2012

    Social Media is about popularity and popularity is often about being funny. If there is a way for someone to twist something you’ve written into something funny, people will surely do it. Perhaps it is best not to give them the opportunity by choosing to promote merchandise with “Finish this sentence” campaigns. Even under the best of circumstance, and with top advertising agencies at your disposal, companies can set themselves up for a laugh. For example: In Japanese, “Siri” translates to “ass”. Apple’s dynamite new product is now the butt of many jokes. European phone giant, Nokia, named their most recent phone “Lumia” – it is an old Spanish term for “prostitute”. Does that mean the phone mostly works after dark?

  • Ed

    Reply Reply March 13, 2012

    The first rule of social media is there are no social media experts.

  • Sheena Wong

    Reply Reply March 16, 2012

    Social media is about relationships. The various platforms give rise to increased connectivity with people, whether it is between friends and family, business to business, business to consumers and such. It is all about engagement, communication and learning from one another. I guess we could say that social media has been integrated into our lives as well. Great post on covering the ‘yay’ and ‘nay’ aspects of “finish my sentence” games on social media, I’ll keep your tips in mind Laurel!

  • Richard

    Reply Reply March 27, 2012

    Social media is a landscape in which the major networks, Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter and more, compete for our attention as consumers.Whilst social media sites give us tools for free, to simplify our lives, the fast paced nature of the industry means managing your social media lives becomes a challenge in itself. Mostly getting friendly with the customers. Social media plays big role in that. Overall a good post Laurel.

  • Darren Butt

    Reply Reply April 6, 2012

    Hello i am Darren Butt

    I enjoy reading your articles

    I am looking forward to read more..

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