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How ignorance can destroy your brand with one tweet

How one brand lit the entire Twitter world on fire this afternoon: are their actions enough?

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Celeb Boutique

Celeb Boutique

One destructive tweet

Last night at the Dark Knight Rises movie opening night in Aurora, Colorado, a gunman open fired and killed 12 people, wounding an additional 59 victims, according to Fox News. This tragedy continues to unfold, and all social media outlets are filled with status updates and tweets with thoughts and prayers for the victims and their families.

Focus quickly shifted on Twitter when this afternoon, the Twitter handle for @CelebBoutique, an online boutique that they say is “loved by your fave celebs” and is “your new addiction,” according to their Twitter bio. The administrative contact for the website is in London, so it appears the company may not be in America, and may not be in touch with local events. As details of the Aurora shooting have unfolded, #Aurora has become a trending topic on Twitter.

Not understanding or researching what “#Aurora” pertained to, @CelebBoutique tweeted the following:
celeb boutique

Like wildfire, thousands of people commented on what appeared to be an insensitive tweet (which would not at all be the first time any brand made this exact same mistake):

Celeb Boutique takes steps to repair the damage

An hour after the tweet was sent out, the company retweeted @FabmagFashion talking about weekend plans, then deleted the troubling tweet, said on Twitter, “we apologise for our misunderstanding about Aurora,” then, then several minutes later explained, “We didn’t check what the trend was about hence the confusion, again we do apologise.”

Four minutes later, the company said, “We are incredibly sorry for our tweet about Auroroa – our PR is NOT US based and had not checked the reason for the trend, at that time our social media [team/person] was totally UNAWARE of the situation and simply thought it was another trending topic – we have removed the very insensitive tweet and will of course take more care in future to look into what we say in our tweets. Again we do apologise for any offense caused.”

Moments later, they tweeted that “this was not intentional and will not occur again. Our most sincere apologies for both the tweet and situation.”

Reactions to the insensitive tweet

Amy Vernon, General Manager, Social Marketing at Internet Media Labs told AGBeat, “It’s never OK to latch onto major breaking news to pimp your brand. Even if it’s not on a news event that’s a huge tragedy, that behavior is crass. When it is tragic news, it’s crass, insensitive and moronic. If whoever is running your account isn’t smart enough to understand that, they don’t deserve to be running your account.”

Vernon added, “Celebboutique needs to get out in front of it and apologize and explain that some sort of action has been taken against the person. Yes, everyone makes mistakes and should be able to get second chances, but this is so egregious that the second chance should be cleaning out wastepaper baskets.”

Senior Digital Communications Specialist at 1680 PR, Benson Hendrix said, “Not every hashtag is worth taking advantage of. In a rush to ride the ‘trending topic’ wave it’s been forgotten that people have died, and others are in the hospital after a horrific event. There needs to be empathy for the families of those who are injured or dead.”

As of publication, @CelebBoutique has not responded to a request for comment.

What your brand can learn

Because the company is abroad, they may not be aware that “I’m sorry” tends to be taken as more sincere than “we apologise,” but many have noted that at least the company deleted the tweet rather than blaming a hacker or simply ignoring it. The likelihood is high that the company will be called to make a broader, more public statement, and will probably be pressured into donating to the families in Aurora as penance – as you can tell, the community is up in arms, even though the tweet has been removed.

The unfortunate part is that this misstep could happen to any one of us – trying to be clever or trendy is part of many social media strategies, but if you learn anything today, it is that you should always understand a trending topic and hashtag before you attach your brand to it, because you never know what you’re stepping in.

And when you step in it, you must immediately remove the tweet (ideally, not an hour later), apologize profusely, explain what you will do in the future, and don’t make excuses. @CelebBoutique’s reputation now lies in their own hands, and how much penance they make will determine if they go down in social media history as a flop or a recovery story.

Lani is the Chief Operating Officer at The American Genius - she has co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH and Austin Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.

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7 Comments

7 Comments

  1. tonia_ries

    July 20, 2012 at 5:36 pm

    How hard is it to CLICK the hashtag and find out what it’s about before you attach your brand to it?  You don’t need to be “based in the US” to do that.  Just wow.

  2. Tinu

    July 20, 2012 at 6:35 pm

    Amy stole my answer – that is exactly what I wanted to say. YOU DO NOT hop on a trending topic, whether you get it or not, to peddle your wares! Very Kanye interruptus.

  3. ouharleyman

    July 21, 2012 at 1:36 pm

    @LeoKingston Ty Leo @ouharleyman aka Aaron Cox

  4. shawnlupharma

    July 21, 2012 at 2:30 pm

    @LilyPLD

  5. LilyPLD

    July 21, 2012 at 3:04 pm

    Thanks for retweeting!! @jayraguda @shawnlupharma ^.^

    • jayraguda

      July 21, 2012 at 5:15 pm

      @LilyPLD @shawnlupharma my pleasure, as always! 🙂

  6. joostharmsen

    August 17, 2012 at 4:17 am

    Some men just want to see the world burn… 🙂

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Social Media

There’s a subreddit that is literally moving the stock market

(SOCIAL MEDIA) “You can’t change the world on Reddit all day.” Hm. Wanna bet? Some people do bet on whether a stock will rise or fall on Reddit.

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Stock market

I don’t gamble. RIP to Mister Kenny Rogers, but this whole folding, holding, walking, running business is bad for my heart.

So playing the stock market is out for me, but apparently, you don’t even need an accountant to place your bets? The good, if foul mouthed, people of r/WSB aren’t just proving that, their playing and paying outside the traditional trading room is actually moving markets!

The subreddit, full name r/wallstreetbets, is 900,000 users strong, and boasts members that have been involved for years. They show off their stock market wins, losses, jokes, and opinions with varying levels of insight on all contributions.

Ordinarily, this’d just be an interesting collection of folks talking stock, but some of their threads have been shown to have an effect on share prices!

Users don’t just share what and how they’ve traded, they also gamble on what stock prices will do, without actually purchasing or selling any. Options contracts allow users to cast lots for less cash, while retaining the power to show actual purchases as hotter or colder and literally moving the temperature dial on them by word of mouth (and possibly pure conjecture) alone.

So I could hop in, put a marginal amount of money down, and say ‘Stock in Pressure Valve Company X is going to go up since more people are buying bidets in the wake of the Corona-based toilet paper hoarders, and they’re a key component’, then pepper in some off-color jokes about personal hygiene and everyone’s moms to blend in, and potentially wait to collect!

Neat.

After all, not only are surges of humans looking at these bets, web algorithms and cookie crawlers are staring too. It’s chatrooms of the dotcom boom all over again, except more chaotic, more gif-laden, and more monitored by outside forces.

It’d be sinister if the vibe of the sub wasn’t ‘Take literally nothing seriously’. Try discussing ‘chicken tendies’ in a boardroom sometime and see what I mean…although the tide on that might be shifting as well.

The one forbidden thing here is actually using the forum for insider trading. Directly profiting from the rumors gets users exiled, and gets users interacting with them booted too.

Serious business actually DOES occur, who would have thought? I wouldn’t have. Which is why I don’t gamble.

It’s easy to write Reddit off as just an online echo chamber slash cesspool, but when it comes down to it, the American Psychos of the world are on the same internet as the basement-dwellers, and the gap in financial literacy between the two ends of the spectrum is pulling a reverse Pangea.

We need to start recognizing that.

I’m still staying away from 4Chan though.

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Social Media

Facebook messenger gets a major facelift for speed

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Facebook messenger has been around a loooooong time and has started to suffer from build bloat. So the new project lightspeed has redesigned it.

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facebook messenger

If you’ve ever spent time in an old-school, family-built home, then you have an idea of what the inner workings of the Facebook Messenger app look like. It began with just a few rooms, but as the needs of the family grew, they kept adding on rooms wherever they fit until the layout no longer made sense and the home became a bloated maze.

Facebook Messenger has been suffering growing pains ever since it branched off into its own app in 2011. As the app became more popular developers worked to make it more engaging by adding new features like stickers, GIFS, and video calls.

At some point, they realized that the app had gotten away from them. The Facebook Messenger currently on your device has move 1.7 million lines of code. An app that big is slow and takes up a ton of valuable space on users devices, so the team knew it was time for a change. The project became internally as Project LightSpeed.

Facebook Messenger is a valuable app for connecting with friends, family, and business connections across the globe. You don’t even need to be Facebook friends with someone to message them making it an invaluable tool for long-distance teams or new business connections. In recent years, the app has begun to slow down making it vulnerable to competitors like WhatsApp.

The development team’s goal for the new app was to make it small, fast, and simple. In order to achieve this Facebook’s team of engineers has reduced the core code by 84%, taking the original 1.7 million lines of code down to 360,000. The new app will be about a quarter of the size of the current app.

A smaller app will load quicker and be more responsive, even if you’re using an older device or you’re in an area with lower connectivity. Current tests put the new app as being twice as fast as the current version, while keeping all the features that users have come to expect. Don’t worry, you will still be able to send your friends stickers, pictures, and obnoxious amounts of GIFs.

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Social Media

Facebook wants to hear from you. Literally. For innocent reasons

(SOCIAL MEDIA) As if Facebook didn’t already own everything that is you, they are asking to hear you say a specific phrase for their new voice services.

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facebook portal

Good news, Facebook is now offering to pay you to let strangers listen to you! Well, kind of.

Users connect to Viewpoints – a different app under the Facebook umbrella – which allows them to participate in market research. In this case, participants repeat the phrase “Hey Portal, call,” followed by the name of a Facebook friend, and submit the recording. The whole ordeal is about five minutes, tops.

By finishing this and other tasks, participants can expect to make a grand total of…$5. It’s not much, but at least that’s a fancy cup of coffee for work you can do while waiting for the ads to finish on your TV show.

So, why is Facebook shelling out $5 for people to make voice recordings? Surprisingly, it’s because AI is not nearly as smart as we sometimes assume – especially when it comes to voice commands. There’s a whole host of things that go into how we communicate, like posture, tone and even slang, which can make understanding vocal commands a much bigger ordeal.

In order to make improvements to the system, it often requires teams of humans putting in the leg-work. This means studying the disconnect between humans and machines, as well as creating solutions. Unfortunately, this human touch is also the excuse companies like Amazon use to justify listening in on your conversations. (Sure, users can ‘opt out’ but come on. That’s not exactly something Amazon advertises.)

As more people grow aware of the potential breach of privacy that tech like Alexa or Portal can bring, however, it’s put pressure on companies to scale back. Which is where Facebook’s new paid survey comes in. Unlike an anonymous employee listening in on a random Portal conversation, this way participants opt in, rather than out, of having their information shared.

The academic in me is slightly skeptical. There’s only so far a paid study like this can get, especially when it comes to the nuances of voice command. The conspiracy theorist in me is also skeptical, mostly because although Facebook promises they won’t sell your information or publicly share it, there’s still plenty of nefarious things to be done. That said, at the end of the day, at least Facebook isn’t just swiping information off your Portal…and you even get some pocket change in exchange.

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