As demonstrated in two previous posts on Twitter, the microblog can be an extremely helpful social media tool to reach consumers in a more personal manner and garner great attention to your brand. However, its wide reach can backlash when used inappropriately for your company. The Kenneth Cole and Cairo controversy is a prime example of managing appropriate tweets for maintaining the corporate image.
Fashion Designer Kenneth Cole tweeted from his official Twitter account, with his personal trademark sign-off ‘KC’, @KennethCole, “Millions are in uproar in #Cairo. Rumor is they heard our new spring collection is now available online at http://bit.ly/KCairo -KC” Posted amongst the height of media coverage for the pro-democracy demonstrations in Cairo. There was immediate backlash by thousands, complaining about the insensitivity of the tweet during a volatile period for Egypt.
The tweet was deleted in a few hours later and Cole apologized on Facebook for his mistake: “I apologize to everyone who was offended by my insensitive tweet about the situation in Egypt. I’ve dedicated my life to raising awareness about serious social issues, and in hindsight my attempt at humour regarding a nation liberating themselves against oppression was poorly timed and absolutely inappropriate.”
The quick response was an appropriate and successful way to handle the social media crisis in order to avoid greater tarnishing of the brand as mention in Learning From Kenneth Cole’s Social Media Mistake. With the 24/7 access to individuals and information on Twitter, there is a need to remain consistent and always contribute to the Twitter conversation.
As pointed out in The Problem with Spontaneous Tweets, Kenneth Cole taking personal responsibility for his mistake, he demonstrated that he took note of the negative response in the ‘Twittersphere’ and responded to his followers’ dismay.
While Twitter encourages the spontaneous thoughts and social-commentary, it isn’t always appropriate for a corporation to use such practices for their Twitter accounts.
–posted by Emily Lucas-Fitzpatrick