Last week here in the US, we witnessed how human error in social media can have serious and dramatic consequences. The now infamous, yet errant, tweet from the @ChryslerAutos Twitter account read as follows: "I find it ironic that Detroit is known as the #motorcity and yet no one here knows how to f**king drive".
It was pulled down in a matter of moments, but still too late in the ever on, ever watched, conversations in social media. And as the tweet was picked up by blogs before it was pulled, Chrysler went into response mode. Initially, people there stated that the account had been compromised [read: hacked], then they announced that it was the mistake of someone on their social media agency's account team. That individual was subsequently fired. Chrysler pulled the entire account from the agency. Reports indicate that the individual who sent the tweet thought he was sending form his personal account--but as he was logged into the @ChryslerAutos account, he sent it from there.
It comes down to human error that could have been easily prevented through what I consider standard - if not routine - protocols that anyone with admin access to a company's official social media account should follow to prevent such an incident. But in this instance those protocols were not in place, and a big brand had a big problem on its hands. Or did it?
How much more relevant and "in touch" would Chrysler be if it had used this instance as an opportunity to embrace its new "rebel image" campaign? They have Eminem music in their corporate branding campaign. George Washington chasing the establishment representative British red coats. And an errant tweet with the F-bomb in it.
Chrysler could have apologized for the tweet, and then come out with another one that gave the brand a personality in line with its new campaign. Could have been something along the lines of "But we all know the #motorcity drivers we're talking about. Or for that matter #anycityUSA drivers".
We all complain about crazy drivers. Chrysler could have tapped into this every-person everyday sentiment and maximized the power of social media. Instead, they betrayed their new rebel image by acting like the old-school company and making heads roll.
If you want people to believe your campaign - that you are a reborn company with a rebel image for rebel consumers - you have to be a rebel. That F-bomb tweet, if handled properly, could have gone miles in reinforcing the rebel image. Instead, Chrysler dropped the ball in hope that playing Eminem songs in their 30-second spots will make them cool. #fail
Stephen Marino is the North American director of digital and social media for MSLGROUP. He brings over 17 years of experience in developing digital business and communication strategies, as well as social Web development solutions. Stephen can be reached at email@example.com .
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