Posted on July 20, 2012 ยท Posted in Social Media

Every year companies spend billions of dollars on branding initiatives and every year one company makes a social media mistake that sets their image back and forces them to furiously try and rebuild their reputation. Last February fashion label Kenneth Cole postulated the Egyptian democratic uprising which led to more than 1,000 deaths and 12,000 political arrests was the result of their new line. The company had to admit their mistake and make public apologies before anger over their lack of empathy subsided.

The difference between Kenneth Cole and last night’s tweet by Celeb Boutique was that Kenneth Cole’s mistake was intentional while Celeb Boutique’s tweet is being blamed as the result of a poorly trained outsourcing team.

Celeb Boutique's Offensive Tweet

Obviously this tweet is wrong and insensitive to the victims of the Aurora, CO shootings but how did it get past the brand’s quality control team? The answer is that one common social media strategy is attaching yourself to trending twitter topics by mentioning them in the context of your brand. For example if Justin Bieber is trending you might say “If Justin Bieber came to our restaurant he would love the onion rings!” The hope is that people searching that topic will see your tweet and you will gain additional social exposure. But the problem is that Celeb Boutique was outsourcing their social media to another country (possibly India) and thus the poster was unable to understand what they were about to say. So – when is it right to outsource social media?

Only outsource social when it makes sense for your brand

When you choose to outsource your social media presence there are some definite advantages that outweigh the obvious disadvantage – losing a measure of control over your brand.

First of all if you’re a small business, there are better ways to use time than responding to @ messages and trying to monitor your presence across all networks. While a positive social media conversation has a definite ROI, I generally advise businesses, especially those in “chatter” friendly industries (restaurants, common local services) to focus time on their service because doing something right has more value than talking about doing something right.

Let someone else handle the common social media interactions of promoting services, responding to compliments or mentions and only get involved when a situation arises that requires a more personalized response (complaints, service issues).

The second reason you should outsource is that social media services can often give engaged customers a faster response. You don’t have to worry about frequently checking various channels to see if you have new mentions or other interactions.

The one thing that I advise is that if you are going to hand off your day to day social media, make sure you provide specific instructions and have a plan in place should you get the dreaded “WTF? @company overcharged me $300! Worst company ever!” type message.