Yesterday, Kenneth Cole Productions, Inc., a New York fashion house, released a tweet:
Millions are in uproar in #Cairo. Rumor is they heard our new spring collection is now available online at http://bit.ly/KCairo -KC
Though this tweet has subsequently been deleted (originally at http://twitter.com/#!/KennethCole/statuses/33177584262971393), others took screen captures of it: http://yfrog.com/h5348jkhtj.
The uproar on Twitter and Facebook was considerable. I won’t talk about what a bad idea this was to use hash tag spam in such bad taste. Plenty of others have. And I won’t get into whether using bad taste can result in more coverage than one could ever expect by playing it safe.
What I will draw your attention to is the link used in the tweet. The great thing about bit.ly is the stats for a link are available to anyone. So I invite you look at http://bit.ly/KCairo+.
As I write this, late Thursday night, there’s been nearly 15,000 clicks on the link. So I guess despite the uproar, this tweet accomplished its message of getting people to look at their new spring collection.
I guess this brings up the question: intentional bad taste or accidental success?
An Apology… Is It Enough?
As well, it looks like Kenneth Cole has issued an apology on Facebook and pointed people to it using Twitter. But aside from one personal apology on Twitter, that seems to be all Kenneth Cole has said on the subject. Like I said about Air Canada’s response to Tanner Bawn, organizations need to be monitoring and engaged in these kind of online firestorms: Swallow your pride, get some important people on a computer, and start trying to control the damage.
If you are going to be using social media, you not only need to understand it, but demonstrate you understand it. You don’t need to answer every tweet and comment, but address some of the issues so it looks like you hear your potentially former-customers and are willing to make amends. Donate to the Red Cross / Red Crescent in Egypt. Post a video on YouTube of Mr. Cole apologizing (like Domino’s). For a company so involved in social causes, surely it can come up with something instead of “Hey, I apologized on Facebook. Case closed.”