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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

Why Trump’s lawsuit against social media still matters

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Former President Trump snagged headlines for suing every large social media platform, and it has gone quiet, but it still deeply matters.

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trump sues social media

It was splashed across headlines everywhere in July: Former President Trump filed a lawsuit against social media platforms that he claims unrightfully banned him during and after the fallout of the January 6th capitol riots. The headlines ran for about a week or so and then fell off the radar as other, fresher, just-as-juicy news headlines captured the media’s eye.

Many of us were left wondering what that was all about and if anything ever became of it. For even more of us, it probably passed out of our minds completely. Lack of public awareness for these things is common after the initial media blitz fades.

Lawsuits like these in the US can take months, if not years between newsworthy milestones. The most recent news I could find as of this publishing is from August 24, 2021, on Yahoo! News from the Washington Examiner discussing the Trump camp’s request for a preliminary injunction in the lawsuit.

This particular suit shouldn’t be left to fade from memory in the shadows though, and here’s why:

In the past few years, world powers have been reigning in regulations on social media and internet commerce. The US is actually a little behind the curve. Trump may have unwittingly given us a source of momentum to get with the times.

In the European Union, they have the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), widely acknowledged to be one of the toughest and most thorough privacy laws in the world, a bold title. China just passed its own pair of laws in the past four months: The Data Security Law, which took effect on Sept. 1, and The Personal Information Law, set to take effect November 1st. The pair is poised to give the GDPR a run for its money for that title.

Meanwhile, in the US, Congress has been occupied with other things and, while there are five bills that took aim at tech monopoly currently on the table and a few CEOs had to answer some questions, little actual movement or progress has been made on making similar privacy protections a thing in the United States.

Trump’s lawsuit, while labeled by many as a toothless public relations move, may actually create momentum needed to push regulation of tech and social media forward in the US. The merits of the case are weak and ultimately the legislation that would give it teeth doesn’t exist yet.

You can’t hold tech companies accountable to a standard that doesn’t properly exist in law.

However, high profile attention and someone willing to continue to make noise and bring attention back to the subject, one of Trump’s strongest talents, could be “just what the doctor ordered” to inspire Congress to make internet user rights and data privacy a priority in the US, finally.

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Social Media

Even solopreneurs are doing live commerce online – it’s not just QVC’s game anymore

(SOCIAL MEDIA) When you think of watching a show and buying things in real time, it invokes thoughts of QVC, but social media video has changed all that.

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live commerce

After the year everyone has had, one wouldn’t be remiss in thinking that humanity wants a break from live streaming. They would, however, be wrong: Live online commerce – a method of conversion first normalized in China – is the next evolution of the ubiquitous e-commerce experience, which means it’s something you’ll want on your radar.

Chinese company, Alibaba first live streamed on an e-commerce site in 2016, allowing buyers to watch, interact with, and buy from sellers from the comfort of their homes. In 2020, that same strategy netted Alibaba $7.5 billion in presale revenue – and it only took 30 minutes, according to McKinsey Digital.

But, though western audiences have proven a desire to be just as involved with sellers during the buying process, live commerce hasn’t taken off here the way it has elsewhere. If e-commerce merchants want to maximize their returns in the next few years, that needs to change.

McKinsey Digital points out a couple of different benefits for organizations using live commerce, the main one being an influx in traffic. Live streaming events break the buying experience mold, and consumers love being surprised. You can expect that prospective buyers who wouldn’t necessarily visit your store under normal circumstances would find value in attending a live event.

Live events also keep people on your site for longer, resulting in richer conversion opportunities.

The sense of urgency inherent in in-person shopping doesn’t always translate to online markets, but having a stream showing decreasing inventory or limited-availability items being sold inspires people to act expeditiously rather than sitting on a loaded cart–something that can kill an e-commerce conversion as quickly as it starts one.

There are a ton of different ways to incorporate live events into your e-commerce campaigns. Virtual auctions are popular, as are markets in which individual sellers take buyers through inventory. However, the live event could be tangentially related–or even just something impressive running in parallel with the sale–and still bring in a swell of revenue.

Screen fatigue is real, and there isn’t a true substitute for a brick-and-mortar experience when done correctly. But if you have an e-commerce shop that isn’t utilizing some form of live entertainment–even just to bring in new buyers–you’re going to want to try this strategy soon.

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Social Media

LinkedIn is nixing Stories this month (LinkedIn had Stories!?)

(SOCIAL MEDIA) LinkedIn tried to be like the cool kids and launched “Stories,” but the video feature is being shelved and “reimagined.” Ok.

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linkedin stories

Creating the next big thing is essential for social networks to stay relevant, continue growing, and avoid shutting down. Sometimes, this leads to businesses trying to ride along with the success of another app’s latest feature and creating their cloned version. While the logic of recreating something already working makes sense, the results aren’t universal.

This time around, LinkedIn is saying goodbye to its short-lived Snapchat-like video product, Stories. In a company post, LinkedIn says it’s removing its Stories experience by the end of September.

Why is LinkedIn retiring Stories?

According to a post by Senior Director of Product at LinkedIn Liz Li, “[LinkedIn] introduced Stories last year as a fun and casual way to share quick video updates.”

After some testing and feedback, they learned this is not what users wanted. Seems like they could have beta tested with users and heard the same thing, but I digress.

“In developing Stories, we assumed people wouldn’t want informal videos attached to their profile, and that ephemerality would reduce barriers that people feel about posting. Turns out, you want to create lasting videos that tell your professional story in a more personal way and that showcase both your personality and expertise,” said Li.

What does this mean for users?

Starting on September 30, 2021, users will no longer be able to create Stories for Pages. If you’ve already planned to have an image or video ads run in-between Stories, they will now appear on the LinkedIn feed instead. For those who used Campaign Manager to promote or sponsor a Story directly from your Page, the company says “these paid Stories will not appear in the LinkedIn feed”, and the user will need to recreate the ad in Campaign Manager.

What’s next for LinkedIn?

According to Li, LinkedIn is taking what it learned from its finding to “evolve the Stories format into a reimagined video experience across LinkedIn that’s even richer and more conversational.” It plans on doing so by using mixed media and the creative tools of Stories.

“As we reimagine what is next, we’re focusing on how we can provide you with a short-form, rich interactive video format that is unique to our platform and that better helps you reach and engage your audiences on LinkedIn. We’re always excited to try out new things and learn as we go, and will continue to share updates along the way,” the company said.

Although Stories didn’t work well for LinkedIn as they hoped, one thing is for sure. LinkedIn isn’t giving up on some form of interactive video, and we can only hope they “reimagine” something unique that keeps users coming back for more.

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