It’s no surprise a junior public relations professional tweeted something inappropriate because this is happened before. The latest tweet gaffe from appliance gadget maker KitchenAid, however, gives us another learning opportunity for would-be corporate tweeters and the marketing executives managing them.
The latest “mistaken tweet” comes today from a member of the company’s social media team. The LA Times story, which explains, how this tweet leaked from the appliance maker’s corporate account, also shows use how corporations handle these. Cynthia Soledad, a KitchenAid marketing executive, issued a series of apologies via Twitter and Facebook.
Lesson 1: Own the mistake and apologize for the gaffe.
The Time article reports, “Soledad said in a separate statement that the employee meant to post the tweet on a personal account but mistakenly sent it instead through the corporate account.” She framed the offensive tweet as a “tasteless joke.”
Lesson 2: Be candid when you frame a mistake and use the common language the offended parties might use. Explain the situation. This helps you identify with their pain or distaste with the actions of your company and opens the door for empathy.
Besides owning the mistake, identifying with the pain it caused, show how your company fixed the problem. In the case of KitchenAid, the social media team member was removed from his or her tweeting responsibility. It’s unclear whether the employee was fired. I might have suspended the employee for a number of days. Before that, however, I would have a “coaching moment” with that him or her. Among the attributes of my management style, I embrace grace to build people.
Lesson 3: Be transparent and honest with how the problem was fixed.
In addition to these three lessons, organizations should write policy and governance regarding social media initiatives. But writing these and filing them away won’t do you much good. Educate your employees engaged with social media. Help them understand that personal tweeting during work hours should be kept to a minimum.
Communication professionals tweeting for an organization are the voice of that organization. By focusing on that voice during the hours they are “on the clock” is important. Personal tweeting can wait until after hours.