Social Media Fail #3: Know what you’re talking about.

29 Dec
Numerous fails related to insensitive handling of current events

Numerous fails related to insensitive handling of
current events or just lack of vigilance

There were several ghastly gaffes this year that can be attributed to the lack of a professional approach towards social media marketing.

Retailers using Hurricane Sandy as a sales platform was not particularly smart.

NRA_Rifleman forgetting they’d scheduled a tweet only to have real life events make it completely inappropriate.

Someone (how many times have we seen this now?) at KitchenAid forgetting to switch between corporate and personal accounts when sending out a tweet.

They were all pretty bad and, not surprisingly, generated something of a social media beatdown.  However I’d argue that one stood head and shoulders above the others because it’s such a classic example of someone firing off a joke marketing tweet without stopping to consider whether the joke was funny.

On Friday July 20, just after midnight, James Eagan Holmes walked into Century movie theater in Aurora, CO., and opened fire.  12 people were killed, over 50 injured.

It didn’t take long for #Aurora to start trending worldwide on Twitter.

Celeb Boutique original tweet6000 miles and 7 time zones away, in England, Celeb Boutique caught sigh of the word ‘Aurora’.  Not yet being familiar with the shooting, they sent out a tweet offering the view that the trend must surely be related to their Kim Kardashian inspired ‘Aurora’ dress.  Which begs the question, is that stupid or is it just a legitimate mistake?

Well, I guess it’s a legitimate mistake if you hand your social media over to an idiot.  But if you’re actually paying someone to manage it for you it’s inexcusable, because you have a right to expect professionalism.

Celeb Boutique streamWithin a few hours, it had been retweeted over 1,000 times and the comments were coming in thick and fast at which point Celeb Boutuque did 3 things.

They apologized.

They retweeted about how excited they were about the weekend.

Then they apologized again.

To be honest, I find the ‘Fabulous Friday’ tweet as bad as the original one.

Celeb Boutique saw that there was a problem, issued and apology and then moved straight on to retweet their excitement about plans for the weekend, before going on to apologize again, and again, and again.

The implication of this seems to be that their initial apology was something of a perfunctory response, and the retweet was sent out before they really got to grips with the strength of reaction their original tweet had caused.

celeb-boutique-profileThat aside, Celeb Boutique’s response when they found out how dumb they’d been was, I believe, sensitive, complete and sincere.  They appeared to be genuinely sorry, and I do sometimes find the way that the holier-than-thou crowd turn into internet bullies somewhat sickening.

However, the fact remains that sending out a marketing tweet on the basis of a trending topic that you haven’t even bothered to investigate for 30 seconds is intensely dumb, almost as bad in fact as Kenneth Cole’s #cairo blunder last year.  Almost.  Cole’s was unforgiveable.

Sensitivity is one of the key skills that should be expected of anyone working in communications.  I sometimes make poor decisions as well.  We all do.  But thinking about what you say in advance of actually saying it is always time well spent.  For instance, when thinking of a title for today’s blog, I mulled over a number of euphemisms for ‘acting without thinking’.  One of the first that came to mind was an observation about how unwise it is to shoot from the hip.  In view of the subject of today’s blog, that particular headline was discarded pretty quickly.

Celeb Boutique makes my Top 3 fails of the year.


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