Twitter is a powerful vehicle; be careful who gets the keys

Would it blow your mind if I told you that social media has been around (in some form) since the 1960s? It’s true. Check out this neat infographic from mediabistro.com.

And while the top social media outlets have been around for years now (some for more than a decade!), many companies still struggle over how to effectively use these as tools in their marketing mix. It’s not easy; social media marketing can feel like trying to shoot a moving target when the medium continues to grow and change.

Some companies think the solution is to hire someone young, who understands the platforms and already used them. However, a recent incident during a presidential debate truly spotlights the need for having professionals in place to run damage control when things go wrong. Of course, this can be a young, social-savvy marketer, just make sure the voice of your social media communications is trained and equipped to handle the reigns when things go wrong.

KitchenAid insults President Obama
It’s your worst fear come true: you just tweeted from your company account, but it was intended to be something personal. It’s a terrible mistake, but one that unfortunately happens. There’s even a wordpress blog dedicated to people who have lost their jobs because of social media gaffes.

This scenario is exactly what happened on Wednesday, Oct. 3 when someone tweeted from the official @KitchenAidUSA account:

“Obamas gma even knew it was going 2 b bad! ‘She died 3 days b4 he became president’. #nbcpolitics,”

The tweet was sent to their 24,000 followers and quickly picked up by Mashable.com. But KitchenAid’s professional marketing team sprang into action to handle damage control.

First, they deleted the offensive tweet. Second, they tweeted an apology. Immediately. That same evening.

Third, they personally contacted the media outlets who’d picked up the story and offered to go on the record. They took responsibility for the mistake, fixed it as best as they could, and prevented it from happening again.


If this story sounds familiar, maybe you’re thinking of the “Sears Killed my dog!” fiasco from 2009, another bad situation made good by great communications professionals. Read about that one here.

The moral of the story is to take the time to make sure your social media team is one you can trust to monitor and respond to problems. Equip your social media managers with processes to follow when something goes wrong.

Need help training your team, or interested in having someone help you kick your social media strategy up a notch? Our c21 team is made up of experts in this area, and we’d be glad to help.

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