Android Google+ page disappoints fans in social media blunder

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Social media is, at times, a double-edged sword. One errant update can turn into a PR disaster. Google found that out yesterday when it disappointed many of its Android fans via Google+. Here's what happened.

Sunday afternoon, the "Android" page on Google+ issued this teaser to its 200,000+ followers:

"Hope you are having a great weekend! Stay tuned for a surprise from +Android on Monday..."

As you might imagine, that set off a flurry of speculation; probably the most optimistic prediction being that Monday would be when Google reveals its Siri competitor, "Majel". Other predictions were more modest, like getting Android 4 Ice Cream Sandwich on {insert predictor's favorite Android device}.

Monday dawned and Android fans held their breath. It was 1:30 when the big surprise was revealed. And here it is: http://www.youtube.com/ninjaunboxing3

Yes, the big surprise was a silly 8-bit game that is essentially an ad for the Samsung Galaxy Nexus.

The responses (500 of them, which seems to be the limit on the number of comments to an individual G+ post) almost universally expressed disappointment and even dismay. In the spirit of the season, my favorite comment is the one by Google+ user Robert Joyce, who said "I feel like Ralphie in the Christmas story when his decoder ring revealed an ovaltine ad. Google usually makes surprises worthwhile but this comes up short."

What next, Google? An app that warns us that we'll shoot our eye out?

Now in the history of major Internet blunders, this is just a tiny blip. No one is going to get fired over this, and as far as I could see (I admit I didn't read all 500 comments) people weren't nerd-raging to the point of swearing off Android or anything like that. But the story should serve as a reminder to all social media professionals that they should save the 'teasers' for actual major announcements, lest they end up like the little boy who cried wolf.

[In case you don't get the reference to A Christmas Story, it's the tale of a young boy in middle America circa the late 1950's. In one part of the story he has joined a Little Orphan Annie Secret Club and is eagerly waiting his decoder ring so he can decipher the secret message at the end of each episode. He finally gets the ring, decodes the message to find it just says "Be sure to drink your Ovaltime," Ovaltine being the sponsor of Little Orphan Annie.]

Read more of Peter Smith's TechnoFile blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Peter on Twitter at @pasmith. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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