Part of what makes good marketing is being able to be topical. This is particularly true in social media marketing. The topics shift from one trend to another in minutes. As a social media marketer it’s easy to come across as spam or have your message buried entirely. Combining this need for ultra topical content and the fact that a lot of brands and PR people are still learning the ropes can make the outcome scary- or very entertaining depending on your perspective.
Take Kenneth Cole for example. Last month the designer shamelessly tried to take advantage of the Egyptian riots on his twitter feed with the following tweet.
“Millions are in uproar in Cairo. Rumor is they heard our new spring collection is now available online.”
This horrible attempt at hijacking a trending topic remained on Twitter for about five hours before it was pulled down and replace with an apology.
Recently, a contractor from New Media Strategies posted an obscene tweet on Chrysler’s Twitter account. The account was being operated by New Media Strategies for Chrysler.
The contractor tweeted the following, “I find it ironic that Detroit is known as the #motorcity and yet no one here knows how to (expletive) drive.”
The contractor later said that he confused his twitter account with the Chrysler twitter account.
To prove that nonprofits are not immune to some of the same foot in mouth situations…
An employee for the Red Cross mistakenly tweeted her love for Dogfish Head Midas Touch beer. She tweeted: “Ryan found two more four pack bottles of Dogfish Head Midas Touch beer. When we drink we do it right. Gutting slizzard.” The Red Cross employee thought she was sending a tweet from her personal account.
The employee quickly took responsibility for the mistake and the Red Cross quickly deleted the tweet. However, unlike the Keith Cole incident the Red Cross just made an honest mistake. However, the mistake ended up being more beneficial than embarrassing.
It was the Doghead brewery mentioned that took advantage of their unique spotlight by driving their customers to donate to the Red Cross. They promoted the donations using the #gettingslizzard hash tag. The Red Cross was unable to calculate the impact of the #getting slizzard tweets, but admits that donations were above average during that time.
The Red Cross & Chrysler twitter mistakes was easily preventable.
As a social media professional I tweet often using customer twitter accounts. From my first tweet I saw the possibility for confusion. New Media Strategies should know this and developed a twitter policy.
My social media twitter policy says that my staff has to use HootSuite for all customer twitter accounts. Personal twitter accounts have to use TweetDeck. The difference in appearance on mobile devices and desktop computers allow no room for confusion.
The good news is that a social media mistake does not need to be a mistake for long. As demonstrated by the Red Cross Dogfish head example. In fact, unlike TV or print ads a insensitive post on twitter may not carry the same negative impact.
After Kenneth Cole’s mistake there seemed to be no negative effect on sales. This does not mean that the company should start trying to make waves just to become the hot branding topic. It just means that doing so may not be that harmful to the brand. In fact it turns out that Kenneth Cole’s social media properties gained followers after his ill-advised tweet.