An employee of Chrysler's social media firm New Media Strategies accidentally tweeted this post, which was quickly deleted. The employee and New Media Strategies were both fired, but not before the post was retweeted many times.
More Social Media Disasters
There are some things you don't do on social media:

1. Ask people to follow a Twitter page that's locked and they can't get to.

2. Track the identity of someone who posts a negative comment about your
company, learning where he works, and contacting his employer to suggest
he be fired.

Social media connects you with your customers in a way that builds loyalty
and makes them your “brand ambassadors”… people who promote your
name and company to others, because they feel they’ve bonded with you.
But, it can also ruin the best-laid marketing plan, reduce the ROI (return on
investment) of a carefully designed brand-building or advertising campaign,
and create a public relations disaster that puts you and your company in
reputation management mode, if it’s used incorrectly.

Chrysler, Kenneth Cole, Starbucks, and supermarket chain Price Chopper all
found this out recently. All had to do some reputation management work as a
result. Here’s what they did or didn’t do, and how you can avoid making the
same mistakes.

More Social Media Disasters

Chrysler and the F-Bomb

Chrysler Group LLC fired social media firm New Media Strategies earlier this
month, after one of its employees posted a tweet that used the “F” word on
Chrysler’s official account. The official tweet read: “I find it ironic that Detroit is
know as the (hash)motorcity, and yet no one here knows how to (expletive)

The original tweet was deleted, but not before it was retweeted numerous
times, made its way onto Facebook, across blogs and into the news media.
Chrysler ended its relationship with New Media Strategies the next day, and
the employee was fired. The fired employee was using Tweetdeck, a
program that allows you to manage multiple social media accounts, for the
post. He reportedly stated that the tweet was intended for his personal
account, and that he’d previously deleted the Chrysler account from

What we can learn:

Opinions are divided, but The Insider believes Chrysler made the right
decision. It sends a clear message to the people who think the tweet
tarnished the company’s image, that Chrysler is concerned about how they
perceive the company, recognizes the value of maintaining a good image
and brand name, and is responsive to their concerns. Those who disagree
may see it as overkill, but the backlash from that will be less than if Chrysler
had chosen not to fire the firm.

Create separate accounts for your personal and professional social media
accounts, especially if you use a service such as Tweetdeck or Hootsuite. If
you outsource your social media marketing/public relations, insist that the
company use separate accounts for your business, and that employees are
required to have separate Tweetdeck or Hootsuite accounts for their personal

And, of course, don’t use four-letter words.

Kenneth Cole and the Crisis in Egypt

Fashion designer Kenneth Cole angered people with a tweet about the
Egyptian uprisings last month… “Millions are in uproar in #Cairo. Rumor is
they heard our new spring collection is now available ....” Cole himself actually
tweeted he statement. He and the company apologized immediately, but
many loyal Kenneth Cole customers took to the Internet to announce they
would no longer buy the fashion mogul’s products.

What we can learn:

Never take advantage of someone else’s bad fortune as a marketing ploy. It’s
a bad strategy that will garner you bad publicity and could potentially damage
or destroy your brand.

Quick Takes… You Do The Math

Thousands of Hungarians launched a Facebook campaign encouraging
Starbucks to open a store in Budapest. It worked -- Starbucks opened a
restaurant and then erased the fan page, along with its 3,000 biggest fans and
brand advocates.

The menu at Denny's Restaurants had call-to-action inviting diners to follow the
chain at twitter/.com/dennys. But, when diners clicked through, they were
taken to the page of "dennys"… someone in Taiwan named Dennys Hsieh,
who tweets in Mandarin -- or some other derivative of the Chinese language.

Hire a proofreader and a copyeditor. Dot your I's and cross your T's.

CVS Pharmacy launches on Twitter. The CVS pages feature the legend:
"@CVS_Cares's Tweets are protected. Only confirmed followers have access
to @CVS_Cares's Tweets and complete profile. You need to send a request
before you can start following this account." The problem is that requests to
become a follower are not acknowledged.

Engage, Don't Attack

Price Chopper, the Schenectady, NY-based supermarket chain tried to get
Jonathan Hoster fired from his job for being "negative" after his tweet
negatively compared one of their stores to the rival Wegman's chain. Hoster
still has his job, but Price Chopper had a reputation management situation to
minimize when it was learned that the company tracked him down and
contacted his employer. Don't hate on your customer, clients, and prospects.

When someone posts negative about your business, engage him or her. Find
out why they’re unhappy and attempt to correct it. You may win them back,
and you’ll certainly demonstrate to your other fans and followers that what they
think and feel is important to you. That kind of engagement builds loyalty to
your business and helps you establish its brand as a caring company that’s
loyal and committed to its customers and fans.

Celebrity Non-Spotlight

Alicia Keys' Digital Death campaign. Keyes had a noble cause: raise a million
dollars to fight HIV/AIDS in the third world. But, as they say, "prior planning
prevents…" Keyes enlisted a host of celebs to put the kibosh on tweeting,
blogging, and using social media in general, until the target goal was raised.
When it wasn't, rather than rally with calls to action, all this social-media
firepower was under a self-imposed moratorium to do...nothing.

It's not as about you as much as you think it is. And when it is about you, it's
not necessarily about the part of you that you think it is. Plan accordingly.

The Bottom Line

Most of these social media disasters involve Twitter, but it’s important to
remember that Facebook, blogs, LinkedIn, and even consumer-review sites
such as Yelp or Google Places present opportunities for you to interact with
your customers… and for mistakes to occur.

Always think before you post. Never take advantage of someone else’s bad
fortune to promote yourself or your business. Check your spelling and your

Apologize if you post or tweet something that you later realize was a mistake
to send out. Do it sooner, not later.

Don’t be afraid of a negative comment or complaint about your company.
Respond to it by confirming and clarifying it. Offer to redress it or find out what
it would take to fix the problem, and take action on it as soon as possible. Be
polite and courteous at all times.

Related Reading:

Social Media Sabotage
BP Oil Exec's Textbook PR Crisis Interview
Social Media is a Conversation
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Chrysler's F-bomb tweet. The tweet
was deleted and the company
Kenneth Cole himself posted this
tweet, which was soon deleted and
he apologized.
The Gap, American Apparel,
KitchenAid, Chick-fil-A...

Read IPR's
Top Social Media
Disasters of 2012
KitchenAid quickly deleted this

Read how it happened in
Top Social Media Disasters of 2012
The Tiger Woods Affair from a pr perspective - negative publicity, bad pr, and public relations actions
Tiger Woods got a lot of negative
publicity that could have been

Read what he could have done in
The Tiger Woods Affair
It takes a lifetime to build a
reputation, and a second to destroy

At no time in history has that
statement been more true than in
today's socially-connected, digital
media society.

If your organization is facing a
social media-related reputation
management situation, call us.

We can help. 607-280-3840
Ithaca, NY   607-280-3840