Karen Masullo is EVP, Social Media for Firestorm Solutions, LLC. In addition to serving as Firestorm Solution's own in-house social media advisor, she also serves on the Firestorm Solutions Expert Council and delivers social media strategy and policy services for Firestorm clients.
How to get fired on Social Media #7242
The appliance seller KitchenAid has apologized for an "irresponsible tweet" about President Obama's late grandmother, whom he invoked during Wednesday night's debate in a discussion about Social Security and Medicare.
Delivered via their Twitter account, KitchenAid sent this message: "Obamas gma even knew it was going 2 b bad! 'She died 3 days b4 he became president."
Fortunately for KitchenAid, their response was swift and effective - within 8 minutes - but the gaffe certainly highlights the risks and challenges involved in using social media.
Kitchenaid's Senior Director of KitchenAid brand, Cynthia Soledad, responded individually to every media outlet. No small task, and one that shows an understanding of the medium and the manner of messaging.
I am sure however, that this is a specific task Ms. Soledad does not wish to repeat.
Many companies employ tools that allow multiple users to post directly to their corporate account, or switch between personal and business accounts.
There is an inherent human error risk in this - a simple mistake sends the wrong message from the wrong account.
At Firestorm, we purposely keep these tools and account access points very separate, and advise our clients to do so as well.
Human error aside, there is a level of maturity required when one is charged with acting as the voice of a brand, whether via one's personal or business account.
Dissing the President's late Grandmother, regardless of your political point of view, is simply immature.
We ask our clients to carefully consider this when making hiring decisions regarding social media personnel.
To build healthy engagement from staff and audience, clear expectations for use must be outlined for both the business' social accounts and employee personal accounts. Firestorm assists in the crafting of a social media risk program that is clear, understandable, manageable and inclusive of the needs and goals of employees and company alike.
Contingency planning in the event of employee turnover and other business impact events must also be addressed, to assure senior management does not lose access to critical information channels in the case of employee turnover.
Never think "Oh, we don't need to tell employees that they should never insult the President and the First Family. They're smarter than that."
Cover every contingency, set clear boundaries with clear consequences, and test! A simple social media crisis tabletop exercise will show you the strengths and weaknesses of your program.
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Firestorm founders Harry Rhulen and Jim Satterfield wrote Disaster Ready People for a Disaster Ready America specifically to address the need for crisis and disaster preparedness at home, and the book has become a cornerstone of many personal and corporate preparedness programs.