Dear social media folks, have we learned nothing yet? Whether you’re a flack creating content or a customer service person helping out a consumer, the number-one rule should be something along the lines of “Don’t be stupid with the brand you protect.”
And make no mistake; one of the first things any of us who are involved in social media are tasked with is protecting a brand. Sometimes, that might mean leaving personal feelings or beliefs out of it. (As a personal example, the company I flack for works with most of the big banks in the U.S., and I’ve had a terrible individual customer experience with one of those banks. I haven’t, and won’t, name the bank in question, because part of the job of being a flack/social media content creator is protecting the brands we work with. I also won’t do any personal business with the bank in question again).
Last night during the debate, one of KitchenAid's folks failed to adhere to this very protection tenant, posting after the president remarked about his grandmother passing away:
Presumably the poster was a Republican?
“Obamas gma even knew it was going 2 b bad! She died 3 days b4 he became president.”
But again, who cares if the poster was a Democrat, Republican, Tea Partier, or a member of the Green party? The job is to use social media to protect the brand, and this was an epic fail.
KitchenAid did apologize shortly after the offensive tweet:
And if you check their feed today, they’ve pointed out that the person responsible won’t be tweeting for the company anymore (and further, their spokesperson Cynthia Soledad is doing a nice job of being a point-person during a self-wrought communications crisis).
“Deepest apologies for an irresponsible tweet that is in no way a representation of the brand's opinion. #nbcpolitics”
But, can we as communications professionals finally learn from the mistakes of others and acknowledge that protecting the brands we work with should be the first goal of social media?