Like a wise man once said…”With great power comes great responsibility.” I think this applies perfectly to social media. Information travels far and fast in the world of social media, something that wasn’t possible not too long ago. Although this has been a huge milestone, it can be potentially dangerous. Once something has been posted to social media, it can never be permanently erased. Companies have the ability or “great power” to easily interact with their audiences through social media, but they must be cautious as to how and what they communicate. They may never intend to offend people with their message, but sometimes…it just simply happens…and they must roll with the punches.
Kenneth Cole learned this the hard way. Back in 2011, Kenneth Cole (the designer himself) posted this tweet to the Kenneth Cole company website:
People began reacting immediately and furiously. The “uproar in #Cairo” mentioned in the tweet referred to the political unrest in Egypt. Essentially, Kenneth Cole used the situation in Cairo to promote its latest spring collection. The tweet did not sit well with people because they felt that Kenneth Cole was making light of the violent and deadly protests erupting in the city. I think its important to recognize the severity of the situation in Cairo in order to understand why people were so outraged by the tweet. I found a video by ABC News that summarizes the protests and I encourage you to watch it.
I side with the people on this one. Although Kenneth Cole later took to twitter to issue an apology for its distasteful tweet, the damage was already done. I think Kenneth Cole made a huge mistake. The events in Cairo and the new spring collection are in no way even remotely related. I think it was extremely insensitive on Kenneth Cole’s part to use a situation like the one in Cairo, to promote its clothing collection. Although the tweet was meant to be humorous, humor and violence never go hand in hand…especially under a realistic circumstance. The public had every right to be outraged and offended by the tweet.
It seems to me that this tweet was very spontaneous and whoever wrote it, whether or not it was Kenneth Cole himself, he or she acted impulsively. I think the person thought of the tweet, figured it would somehow be clever or funny , and posted it. I think Kenneth Cole and other organizations can avoid this sort of mess by setting an approval process. Before something is tweeted out from the company’s social media account, several people should read it. This way, they can look for language that may be offensive or misinterpreted by the public. It’s not easy to catch one’s own mistakes, but having another person look for them is much easier.
Until next time ❤