Social Media Risk TwitterWoke up this morning to an inbox filled with questions about the KitchenAid tweet gone bad.

It's funny how many minimize the power of Twitter. How many times have we heard “it's just a tweet.” Or “what can really be said in 140 characters?”

Well, ask KitchenAid this morning what impact 140 characters can have on your day and your brand. KitchenAid isn't the first to deal with such an issue.

My question is when will brands wake up and realize they need to take the 140 character communication medium serious? A simple audit can help identify these issues.

What happened with KitchenAid? 

1. An inappropriate tweet was sent from the @KitchenAidUSA twitter account during the Presidential Debate.  

The tweet was obviously meant to be sent from a personal account.

kitchenaid Obama tweet



2. A tweet was quickly sent from the same @KitchenAidUSA account taking full responsibility for the tweet and apologizing.

kitchenaid obama tweet apology

3. A follow-up tweet was sent directly to President Obama apologizing.

kitchenaid obama apology


4. Cynthia Soledad, head of the KitchenAid brand immediately took responsibility and positioned herself as primary contact for all media. She was quick in responding and being proactive in making herself available to represent the brand, the issue and PR crisis one 140 character tweet has caused. 

kitchenaid obama tweet responsibility


kitchenaid Obama media response availability


 What KitchenAid Did Right

  • Immediately took responsibility.
  • Responsibility was taken at a brand, organizational, team and personal level.
  • Apologized to their general Twitter following and Twitter community at large.
  • Apologized directly to President Obama.
  • Made themselves personally available to discuss with the media.
  • In regard to managing the PR crisis, KitchenAid seems to be doing all the right things. Only time will tell how they step up to the plate, take responsibility and make the necessary changes.


Bad Things Happen to Good Brands

There are many lessons to be learned from this and many other incidents that have gone bad with global brands.

How many of these case studies do we need before brands big and small take social media, Twitter and their communication on such platforms seriously?

It is time brand and business leaders take social media serious. It is not a game. Social media is real. What is said via a 140 character Tweet goes straight to blog posts, Facebook, TV, radio, newspaper and viral word of mouth. One late night tweet from a team member can have devasting impact to a brand.


How could this have been prevented? 

social business social media auditThe first thing we do with any client who wants us to help them integrate social into their business is an audit of their entire social media program. We look at everything from processes, procedures, security, who, what when and how they are sending tweets, posting updates to Facebook, photos to Pinterest and the list goes on.

My guess is one quick look at their social media team setup we could have identified the risk. A few of our first questions would have uncovered the following:

  • What and how is content being managed and shared with their global brand Twitter following?
  • Who has authority to send content?
  • Who has authority to send content via mobile device?
  • Is the account used to send Twitter content shared with a personal account (such as via HootSuite where you can mix both personal and business accounts from multiple brands.)
  • Does the team tweeting have appropriate morals that there is high or low risk in such a tweet being sent? What does their own personal Twitter stream look like?
  • What processes are in place to approve and review content before being sent?
  • Who has authority to send content with or without approval?
  • What and how is a PR crisis managed?
  • What and how is a Twitter account access removed from an employee, team member or partner who is removed from the account after an incident such as this? What risks exist with Twitter and other accounts authorized on team member mobile phones, iPads or desktop computers?

We have reached out to KitchenAid and invited them to join us on #GetRealChat Twitter chat to talk about this situation. We hope they will be open in sharing their experience for brands large and small. We are all learning in this space and are much better working together than we are bashing one another. I think we can all learn from mistakes such as this.

No More Excuses!

social media audit and analytisBottom line, bad things can happen to good brands and good people. However, that is NO excuse. The risks and problems can be mitigated with a bit of extra planning.

If you do not have a social media policy in place, have not looked at your processes and procedures, don't know who has access to your Twitter, Facebook and other accounts, you better find out and fast!

Do your own audit. Hire someone to help you do an audit. Uncover the risk. You can't mitigate risk that you don't acknowledge or know exists, period.

Brands, step up, take social media serious and proactively manage your future. Nobody else is going to do it for you.

Need help? Call us at 813.643.3202. If not us, call somebody who can help!

What you say?

What are your thoughts? Do you see risks at the company you work for or have worked for?


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