Last night, KitchenAid joined the unfortunate ranks of brands whose Twitter accounts have – if temporarily – hosted “rogue Tweets” by employees, or whose brands have been affected by Tweets posted by employees on their personal accounts.
Cynthia Soledad, head of cystic acne natural remedies for the brand, quickly took to social media to apologize to angry customers, assure them that the rogue Tweeter would no longer have access to the brand’s social media accounts, and connect with reporters so that she could go “on record” about the incident. While the Tweet itself is an embarrassment for the brand, her response (and response time – in the middle of the night), is a perfect example of how brands should handle crisis communications.
And while KitchenAid is under fire today, the brand’s response time and actions will likely ensure that the incident quickly fades away, living on only in social media circles by marketers who look back at major social media blunders when pitching clients, networking with colleagues, or warning the next generation of social media managers about the essential need to “check your work” before publishing.
For those who are curious, here are four other examples of rogue Tweets that have hoisted brands into the spotlight, as well as the response for each:
Chrysler Autos drops the F-Bomb On Twitter
In March, 2011, an employee for the social media agency handling @ChryslerAutos accidentally dropped the F-Bomb from the company’s corporate account rather than a personal one, resulting in the employee’s firing. While Chrysler originally responded by posting that their account had been “compromised,” they later acknowledged the mix-up.
Red Cross Does It Right, Gets Slizzered
Only a month earlier, Red Cross had its own Twitter oopsie, with an employee of the company accidentally posting about her plans to #GetSlizzered on Dogfish Head beer. In this case, @RedCross deleted the Tweet and inserted humor into their response: “We’ve deleted the rogue Tweet, but rest assured Red Cross is sober and we’ve confiscated the keys.” In this case, the rogue Tweeter came forward from her own account and admitted her mistake. We’re happy to see that she’s still with the brand, more than a year later.
Ketchum Exec Insults Client’s Hometown
Back in 2009, when Twitter’s popularity was exploding and brands and marketers were developing solid strategies for how to harness the power of social for branding, James Andrews (@keyinfluencer), a VP at Ketchum, posted his thoughts about client FedEx’s hometown of Memphis the day of a presentation on, well, digital media. While this “rogue tweet” went out from his personal account, an employee at FedEx (perhaps checking out the exec’s personal Twitter prowess) found the insulting post, shared it with execs, and Andrews received a scathing letter from the company about his lack of sensitivity. Andrews later published his own apology, both accepting blame for his post and explaining his side of the story.
Microsoft Accidentally Insults Ann Coulter
A social media manager at the technology giant thrust the company into the world of politics with a Tweet that insulted conservative author and pundit Ann Coulter. In response to a Tweet from Robert Reich about a visit to see his granddaughter and sit on a panel with Coulter, Microsoft’s official feed posted: @RBReich your granddaughter’s level of discourse and policy > those of Ann Coulter.” Microsoft issued a press release on the Tweet, which was almost immediately deleted, noting that the opinion “obviously” wasn’t the company’s official position, and noting that policies had been put in place to ensure that similar mistakes would not happen in the future.
KitchenAid Mocks Obama’s Dead Grandmother
As we’ve all been reading, a now-former social media manager for @KitchenAidUSA posted off-color commentary about the HX30 turbo during last night’s presidential debate. The Tweet lived for only about 30 minutes on the brand’s site, but lived on for hours in angry RT’s calling for a boycott of the brand, apologies, and the head of the Tweeter who posted the offensive comment. Not only did the brand issue a prompt apology, but roused their head of marketing, Cynthia Soledad to take the helm. She accepted responsibility for her team, apologized to customers and the president, and made herself available to go on record with reporters who broke the story in the mass media.
While a Twitter misfire is certainly the subject of viral fire, each of these examples can offer the execs at KitchenAid some assurance that “this too shall pass.” And while rogue Tweets will stir customers to act, the brand’s response will go a long way to addressing customer brand loyalty. And, in the case of the Red Cross, taking personal ownership for a mistake you made goes a long way to keeping you from joining the unemployment lines.