Once again, two large companies have angered lots of people and bruised their reputations by making a simple and increasingly common social media mistake. The latest two companies to post offensive tweets on their Twitter pages are StubHub and KitchenAid, who each stirred up controversy last week.
StubHub’s tweet, shown below, is estimated to have come from a StubHub employee, or someone pretending to be one.
The tweet was posted at 7:33 p.m. ET. Almost an hour later, at 8:20 p.m., @StubHub posted an apology tweet:
StubHub currently has 19,062 Twitter followers and many of them screen-captured the tweet and posted it all over the site. According to StubHub’s public relations, the account was most likely hacked, or the user thought they were tweeting to their personal account. Or perhaps it was just a distraught employee having a really bad day.
StubHub was not the only large company to experience a Twitter disaster this month. KitchenAid is now doing some serious damage control following an insulting tweet sent out during the presidential debate. The tweet, shown below, referenced Obama’s deceased grandmother, Madelyn Dunham, who died a few days before he was elected president in 2008.
KitchenAid also quickly deleted the tweet and issued an apology, but it has already been retweeted many times. Several hours after the original tweet was posted, Cynthia Soledad, KitchenAid’s senior director of branding, took to Twitter to explain what happened and apologize to President Obama.
Stubhub and KitchenAid aren’t the first to bruise their image via Twitter. The following are some other notable PR nightmares that came as a result of a Twitter fail:
- Just days after gunman James Holmes murdered 12 people at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado in July, UK-based online retailer CelebBoutique tweeted that their Kim Kardashian-inspired Aurora dress was the reason for their city being on the news. The tweet said “#Aurora is trending, clearly about our Kim K inspired #Aurora dress 😉 Shop: celebboutique.com/aurora-white-pleated-v-neck-strong-shoulder-dress-en.html …”
- While Egypt was going through a period of violent political protest, Kenneth Cole’s brand took a beating after the company’s Twitter posted a tweet that said: “”Millions are in uproar in #Cairo. Rumor is they heard our new spring collection is now available online.”
- An employee of the American Red Cross released a tweet that said: “Ryan found two more 4 bottle packs of Dogfish Head’s Midas Touch beer…when we drink we do it right #gettingslizzerd.” It may have been some awesome free advertising for DogFish Head Craft Brewery, but it was a PR nightmare for the Red Cross. Luckily, the two companies worked together and managed to turn the disaster into a brilliant fundraising opportunity for the Red Cross.
So what can we learn from these Twitter fails? Here are a few PR tips on how to draw positive attention to your company’s Twitter page:
- Choose your account administrators wisely. Make sure they are professional, responsible, and well versed on the risks of social media.
- Be attentive and involved in all online conversations about your brand.
- Realize that mistakes do- and will- happen at some point and have an emergency plan in place.
- Respond quickly and directly.
- Have a social media policy and make sure employees and outside agencies hired are aware of it.
- Be honest, genuine and transparent.
- Don’t take yourself too seriously. Your audience wants to see the human side of your brand, so have some fun with it. Just make sure not to have too much fun though!