Adult Supervision Required
July 8, 2014
We've all seen the "accidental" (and many times tasteless) social posts from some big brands over the year.
For example, remember this tacky move from AT&T last year on 9/11? It seems everyone but AT&T's social media department knows that September 11th is not an occasion for product placement, right?
They received the typical backlash, apologized, and then deleted the post - something that has been going on for a few years now with companies.
So, on Independence Day, when another person responsible for a brand's voice socially forced their company to issue another one of those 'sorry' statements, it makes you wonder when companies will start taking social media more seriously. And that means scouting, training, and monitoring their activities.
In the case last week, it was American Apparel's Tumblr account.
A social media manager posted a picture from the 1986 Challenger disaster, mistaking it for a "cool" Fourth of July photo that even included the use of the hashtags #smoke and #clouds:
And just like embarrassed brands typically then do, American Apparel issued the requisite "my bad":
There's no doubt we are all prone to oversights and human errors (or in this case being "too young" to remember the Challenger tragedy and mistake it for fireworks), but there's a bigger problem:
Just having social media knowledge does not equate to possessing the sophistication, maturity, and common sense required to speak for a brand online.
All too often, social media managers are getting hired because they either fall into that "native to social/digital" generation – or worse, "they're on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Vine, WhatsApp, Tumblr, and Whisper all the time."
And those qualifications make them proficient in speaking for a brand in front of millions of customers?
It's time to have systems and principles in place regarding what they are posting, and continuous training for social managers about how to have the business sense and boardroom maturity needed to prevent these self-inflicted wounds.
It's time to find out about your social team - how are they creating value? Is there more to their social skill set than just Googling cool pictures and posting the first thing they see?
When someone has the privilege to speak for a brand socially, it's serious stuff. There's no such thing as winging it, and "youth" is no excuse. It's time for real perspective. Without it, there is no direction and that is why we keep seeing these "random acts of social."
"My bad" is no longer sufficient.
Thanks to Scott Miller for nudging me to write this.
Reach out to me anytime on Twitter @lorilewis.
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