In Social Media, there is no ‘delete’ button

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Setting up a Facebook fan page or a Twitter feed for a brand is the easy part. Figuring out a strategy and keeping the conversation going is the tough part. Even tougher is dealing with mistakes, even unintended ones.

Kenneth Cole, the American clothing designer’s attempt at humour misfired. His attempt to link the turmoil in Cairo to Egyptians clamouring for Kenneth Cole’s new spring collection, was undoubtedly in poor taste.

Following an outrage on Twitter, the tweet was deleted. Kenneth Cole even apologized on Facebook. But that has not stopped the anger or mocking.

Now I don’t know if the CEO himself sent out that tweet or it was left to an intern or copywriter to write on his behalf. Either way, it is the height of dumbness, arrogance or both. And even an attempt to cover the tracks and undo the mistake as it were, is not going to help the issue go away – at least for a little while. Lessons:

– it doesn’t matter if the brand’s social media presence is left to an employee, an intern, an agency copywriter or the PR agency: its the brand speaking with consumers out there

– there is no ‘delete’ button on the internet. There will always be a record some where – a screen shot, a link…something.

– never underestimate the power of a single Facebook fan page entry or a Twitter post.

That one tweet of Kenneth Cole is now mentioned as part of his profile on Wikipedia page. Amazing what gets associated with your brand in no time.

In advertising, we speak of tone of voice and brand personality. In an audio visual medium when we seek to entertain the impact of both audio & video is tremendous. It can be goose flesh stuff and can make the brand likeable. Even if the tone of voice in one ad is not so popular, it is quickly forgotten until the next ad. But when reading out a line in a social media context – it is bereft of any ‘bells & whistles’. In a way it is like reading an SMS or email: the take out can be very different from the intent. When you receive an SMS saying just an ‘OK’ or ‘Thanks’, sometimes we do wonder if it was meant to be sarcastic or curt.

Anyway, just like our scams & scandals, this too shall pass on the internet – because there will be something else that catches your attention. But, hey, it is out there somewhere.

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  1. Great post sir! Before saying anything behalf of a brand, he/she needs to think twice before pressing the enter button. We never know what's the consequence is likely going to be. Day by day understanding consumer mindset online becomes tough and we just cannot go wrong about them. I still can't figure out how Rebecca black became so famous despite being hated so much.

    +1 follower from now on!


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