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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 and has been named in the Inman 100 Most Influential Real Estate Leaders several times, 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

Why your Instagram follower counts might be jacked

(SOCIAL MEDIA) What’s going on with Instagram follower counts? It’s a v-day bug, of course!

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Instagram

Yesterday, I did what I usually do on Instagram – peruse through my own profile because I enjoy my photos. Though my follower count is nothing to write home about, I was confused when I noticed I had lost about 10 followers and had mysteriously unfollowed about the same number of people.

To quote Alicia Silverstone in Clueless, “I was like, totally buggin’”. Turns out, bug was the operative prefix as a bug was cause for the issue, and many users were feeling the bite.

TechCrunch shared that Instagram confirmed the bug was the problem causing follower counts to change. The social media platform also said that the issue should be resolved by 9 a.m. PST on Valentine’s Day (because the only love worth celebrating is that of your follower count!)

At first, many users, myself included, assumed that the decrease in followers came from an attempt from Instagram to remove fake spam accounts. However, when we noticed that our following count had also gone down, that was when people took to Twitter to complain.

One user wrote, “so I just lost like 4K on Instagram and it unfollowed like 100 people within a matter of minutes? what’s going on [whining emoji] like I’m not mad about my follower count cause I’d rather have less spam followers and better engagement but like why is it unfollowing people?!”

Instagram also used Twitter as a way to explain the issue, which is where they shared that the problem should be fixed by Thursday morning. “We’re aware of an issue that is causing a change in account follower numbers for some people right now. We’re working to resolve this as quickly as possible,” the company tweeted on February 13. “Update: we’re expecting to have this issue resolved by 9 a.m. PST tomorrow. We understand this is frustrating, and our team is hard at work to get things back to normal.”

My follower/following count went back to normal a few hours after I noticed the issue, but it may take just a bit longer for all users to see the counts restored.

Share with us below if this issue threw off your social media game yesterday!

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Social Media

Fallout from Facebook’s shady program spying on children

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Facebook is barely even trying to be sneaky anymore, paying children to allow them to spy. Shameless.

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facebook

Facebook recently landed in hot (boiling) water when it was uncovered that Facebook has been paying teens to install a “research” VPN on their devices that would allow the tech giant to see all of the teen’s cellular and web usage, for about $20 worth of gift cards each month.

The participants were largely recruited into the program as a result of targeted Snapchat and Instragram ads, and offered participants additional incentives to refer friends into the program too.

The purpose of this Big Brother program was not to empower young minds with technological innovation, but to use all of this data to track Facebook’s competitors, keep track of emerging trends, and otherwise be creepin’ on the kids. The program reportedly went so far as to ask users to share screenshots of their Amazon order history pages.  

According to the report: “Facebook sidesteps the App Store and rewards teenagers and adults to download the Research app and give it root access to network traffic in what may be a violation of Apple policy so the social network can decrypt and analyze their phone activity.”

Oh, and if the privacy concerns of this whole program weren’t terrifying enough; it has been going on since 2016.

Almost immediately after the news broke, Apple banned Facebook’s Research VPN and shut down the iOs version of the Research app, before Facebook could suspend the program voluntarily. Apple also released a statement condemning the program and Facebook’s shady choice to hide it in the iOs Developer certificate rather than the App Store (where apps that collect personal data have been banned since last summer).

This entire debacle highlights the murky borders of online consent when children and teens are involved. Not only are teens less likely to be aware of the risks of sharing their data, but also often parental “consent” is not real. There’s no verification of parental consent; if a teen checks a box in an online form saying that they are their parent—the website is none the wiser. The same is true for many age verification processes.

If you are a real parent reading this and want to check to make sure that your teen’s not selling their personal data for pennies, you LifeHacker has instructions to help you identify whether or not they are in the program (and get them out of it!).

This entire debacle is a nice reminder that large tech companies may offer innovative services, high salaries to employees, and strange new ways of keeping in touch with people we’d probably forgotten by now, but the product is not the social networks they build.

The product that Facebook, Google, Amazon, and other giants are really interested in is data – we’ve been reporting that for over a decade now. Their treatment of people that may not even be able to consent to sharing their data highlights this narrow goal. If you a not a person, but rather a collection of market insights, what does your age matter? It’s just another variable for the algorithms (robots).

The upside of this entire debacle is that many parents previously unaware of this type of program are now talking to their children about this topic.

Further, this gives politicians more tangible evidence of why media companies like Facebook should never get a free pass for bad behavior.

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Social Media

We’re skeptical of FB’s reason for killing the Moments app

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Facebook is killing Moments. Turns out, most people don’t know it exists – here’s what we’ll all be missing.

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facebook moments

January was the longest year ever, amirite guys? Now all that’s over, we can finally say goodbye to toxic things like Whole 30 oversharers and, if we’re lucky, terrible products from tech giants.

I love writing about tech companies’ failed attempts at ~cool~ new products. Honestly, it’s become a personal hobby, or, dare I say, delight. Nothing warms my ice cold heart like seeing Google Glass, Google+, and the Facebook “Moments” app go up in flames.

*record screeches*

Wait, hold up… there was a Facebook Moments app? What the heck is (or was) the Moments app?

In case if you didn’t know like most people, here’s what you need to know:

Moments was originally created in 2015 as a way for Facebook users to privately share photos outside of the standard Facebook platform. The app implemented machine learning and facial recognition technology to help group photos, and then “recommended” who to share the photos with based off who was in the picture.

Get off my lawn.

If there’s anything we learned in 2018, it’s that we can totally trust Facebook with very private and personal information!

And I know what you’re thinking: why would this crappier and creepier version of Google Photos be necessary? Spoiler alert: it’s not.

In a moment of temporary sanity, Facebook announced it’s shutting down Moments and the app in its entirety on February 25th, citing a notable lack of downloads.

Here’s the interesting bit, though: no other reasons were mentioned like security or privacy concerns, and they insisted it’s pulling the plug only because not enough people downloaded it.

Considering Facebook bullied hundreds of thousands of users into downloading the app, so much so that in 2016 it was #1 in the App Store for several days, do we really believe the “no user base” excuse?

What else is going on under the hood of Moments that isn’t being revealed?

Given the recent controversies surrounding Facebook’s lack of data transparency and unethical decision making in this realm of personal data, I have a hunch something else might be behind this sudden “no downloads” rhetoric.

Only time, and perhaps another amusing congressional hearing, will tell.

In the off chance you’re one of the seven people with photos on Moments, you’ve been forewarned, and make sure to delete all of your data from it in case if Zuck pulls another Cambridge Analytica.

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