The Latest Twitter #Fail: What Social Media Professionals Can Learn from Celeb Boutique’s Aurora Tweet
In the early hours of July 20, a gunman opened fire in an Aurora, Colo. movie theater during a midnight screening of “The Dark Night Rises,” killing 12 people and injuring 56 others. The shootings quickly generated widespread coverage from U.S. media and social media channels, as people at the theater started using Twitter to share their chilling firsthand accounts of the scene (for more on this, read Huffington Post: Aurora Shooting Twitter: How News of “Batman” Massacre Spread). As of this writing, the story has attracted global awareness and continues to be the lead story in a majority of U.S. newspapers and news broadcasts as new details on the shooter and victims continue to emerge and funeral services for those killed begin.
Which is why, when Celeb Boutique, an online store based in the United Kingdom that sells clothing emulating celebrity styles, posted the below Tweet relating the trending #Aurora hashtag to one of their Kim Kardashian-inspired dresses, people were outraged.
File that under #epicsocialmediafail.
The tweet, which was left up for about an hour, received hundreds of retweets which were further amplified – mostly by people expressing disgust that Celeb Boutique would use such a tragic event to promote a product. In response, Celeb Boutique removed the tweet from its page, and posted the following apology claiming that the individual that posted the tweet was not based in the U.S. and, therefore, not aware of why #Aurora was trending in the first place:
“We are incredibly sorry for our tweet about Aurora. Our PR is not US based and had not checked the reason for the trend. At that time, our social media was totally unaware of the situation and simply thought it was another trending topic. We have removed the very insensitive tweet, and will of course take more care in the future to look into what we say in our tweets. Again, we do apologise for any offense caused. This was not intentional and will not occur again. Our most sincere apologies for both the tweet and the situation.”
In the days following, a Facebook page protesting the brand popped up, people continued to discuss the tweet on social media channels, and hundreds of articles appeared criticizing the tweet in prominent media outlets around the world. The PR industry was also quick to respond, condemning the brand’s use of the hashtag to promote itself and comparing the move to the Kenneth Cole social media debacle, when the fashion company posted a tweet that used the 2011 unrest in Egypt to promote its spring collection.
Others have theorized that Celeb Boutique may have actually posted the tweet on purpose, such as Mary Long at mediabistro.com, who makes a compelling argument that the tweet wasn’t a rookie mistake, but rather a brand using social media in an unethical way to promote itself and gain media attention. After all, it takes a minute to click a hashtag to understand why something is trending, and with over 40,000 followers and 15,000 tweets under its belt, Celeb Boutique is clearly not new to social media.
Whatever the case may be, this provides another reminder to companies active in social media to always double check information and consider the possible repercussions before posting information – even if you think it’s just a light hearted joke. Had the community manager of Celeb Boutique’s Twitter took a mere 60 seconds to better understand why Aurora was trending, he or she could have avoided the hundreds of hours and investments that it will likely take to restore the reputation of the brand.
What do you think about this tweet? Do you think it was truly a mistake? How would you handle such a situation at your own company? Leave a comment below!