Amy Winehouse’s sudden and undoubtedly tragic death was probably one of the most disturbing stories from this past weekend. Still, what’s been even sadder have been the responses from many companies in an effort to capitalize on her passing. In a particularly shameless example, Microsoft UK’s Xbox 360 Twitter account Tweeted about Amy Winehouse and suggested that its followers remember her by purchasing her album, “Back to Black.” As a result, people were understandably pissed off. “Talk about cashing in on someones death!” wrote one follower. Apple and Amazon have attempted to capitalize in a similar vein as well, suggesting that customers pay tribute to the dead singer by purchasing her album as well.
But those examples are just some of the many frequent issues that occur on Twitter and other social media sites. Other blunders include instances in which individuals inadvertently confused their personal Twitter accounts with their corporate accounts, and not so hilarious results ensued. One example, posted by a Chrysler Autos Twitter account, read that “I find it ironic that Detroit is known as the #motorcity and yet no one here knows how to ****ing drive.” The employee that was managing the account was later fired, and soon after that incident Chrysler also fired New Media Strategies, the company that was responsible for handling their account.
Even the American Red Cross has fallen victim to rogue tweeters posting on corporate accounts. In a particularly damning example, one tweet suggested that the American Red Cross was planning on having an especially wild Tuesday night and “#gettngslizzerd.” The American Red Cross later followed up the incident and suggested that the company in fact had absolutely no intentions of “#gettngzlizzerd” later that night, contrary to what a recent tweet may have suggested.
It goes without saying that social media can often be a double-edged sword in marketing any business. There’s certainly nothing wrong with posting content that is relevant to current events. Still, those events must be commented on and addressed in a way that is both tasteful and inoffensive. Negative press doesn’t just hurt the individual that, more often than not, gets fired. It can be severely detrimental to the company’s image as well. In as quickly as a tweet can be sent, it can also cause significant damage to a company’s image. Regardless of how well a Twitter campaign was going, it can halt substantial progress in a company’s marketing campaigns.
That’s why it has become extremely important for companies and individuals to not only consider the wording of particular tweets, but also context. How would our audience respond to this? Could anyone anticipate this as offensive? And finally, am I posting this on the correct account?
As with most things on the Internet, the convenience and ease of broadcasting to millions of potential customers have allowed for huge brands and companies to penetrate social media in a meaningful way. Unfortunately, that convenience has also resulted in slip ups that have had significant negative impact on the images of particular brands.
Still, the ultimate purpose of social media is to foster a connection between brands and its customers. That’s undeniable. But it’s also important that those connections be as positive and genuine as possible. No company aims to be the guy at the wedding making inappropriate speeches about the groom. The rule of thumb in these cases? Think very, very hard before you Tweet.
Source: MSM DesignZ, Inc. is a Westchester NY Social Media company specializing in advertising, web and graphic design, and SEO.