This article was originally published in September 2020. Some sections have been amended and two new sections have been added, both scrapped during the original writing process.
If I had a quid for every weird question I received on social media, I’d be loaded.
It seems to be a given that social media bears the brunt of most strange requests, whether it’s from your audience or your colleagues. Social media managers already serve as a “jack-of-all-trades”, doing everything from customer service to PR, but we’re still completely thrown by some of the questions we get asked.
Let's take a look at just a few of the weird enquiries I’ve had during my career.
“Can I borrow some liquid nitrogen?”
Admittedly Chemistry was my weakest of the sciences, but I don’t think liquid nitrogen is something I should freely give out to a stranger on social media.
“There’s a duck trapped in the courtyard and all the doors are locked”
Ten minutes later he tweeted us saying “never mind”. The duck had flown away.
“Can I rent a buggy?”
In a previous job, our Security team would provide a buggy service to take guests from one end of the site to the other. They would also use it for people with mobility issues. One person asked us if they and their friends could rent a buggy for a few days to drive across fields.
They weren’t happy when I said no.
“I think the person in your latest news story is my long-lost brother”
Nothing could have adequately prepared me for this message. Was it true? Who knows. Data protection stopped us getting involved in that particular scenario, which was probably for the best.
“I didn’t know you were an actual person, I thought a robot ran social media”
Also, I could (at a stretch) understand this coming from one of our followers, but not a colleague I had met at least two times before.
“Why do we have to make our posts accessible?”
This came from a senior member of staff in a communications role.
“I spotted some kittens nearby; can you rescue them?”
Fun fact: in a previous job my colleague helped feed and rescue so many cats. In this instance, I spent about half an hour trying to coax a small kitten from behind a fence.
“I’m going to write a book about what you did and destroy your company”
Our crime? Her son didn’t get his first-choice accommodation.
“You’ve ruined my son’s 1st birthday”
Our crime this time? She didn’t get a place at our university.
“We’re organising a mob to protest your upcoming event”
We were holding a charity paranormal evening. One man told us he was going to burn our building down. Thankfully only a few people turned up, and we had a suitably spooky evening.
“Why aren’t you responding to my messages?”
A pretty normal message, right? Not when the messages were sent in the middle of the night.
In one instance, someone sent us a message at 2am asking if they could book a stall at our fair…happening at 11am the same day. They replied to their own message at 3am complaining I was ignoring them. The Event Manager gave them a stall at the last minute, and I got a complaint.
In another instance, I logged on to see a full-blown argument someone had with our auto-responder. I think the auto-responder won.
“Can I speak to a man about this?”
This was asked to us on Facebook by someone who (we’re certain) didn’t know the people running the accounts. His question was not gendered in any way.
Sadly, this wasn’t the only time my female social media colleagues faced sexism in their roles.
“I know there’s a lockdown, but can I come back and pick up a nice outfit to go to a party in?”
Not sure where to start with this one.
“Do you want to buy some weed?”
When I explained we were a large company and not an individual, they responded with a sexually explicit photo.
“Someone’s parked their car where they shouldn’t, do something about it!”
I went to respond to this Facebook message when I noticed he worked at the same place I did. I searched his name in our staff database.
His job? Traffic Attendant.
“Can you post this photo of my mate? It’ll really annoy him”
I was tempted, but ultimately refused.
This article was originally published as part of National Social Media Managers Day. No personal details about individuals are mentioned within the article. All examples occurred in previous companies between late 2016 and mid 2020.