Unless you were living under a rock on Thursday, you saw this:
Twitter blew up minutes later. Everyone was on Kenneth Cole. And for good reason – it was a really bad tweet. But if you listened to some of the people berating him, you’d think the Kenneth Cole empire was going to come crumbling down because of this.
Look, I don’t buy Kenneth Cole products. I have no loyalty to him or his brand. I could care less if his empire came crumbling down. But to imply that this tweet was somehow evil and worthy of the extreme ridicule the man’s receiving is just a little bit over the top, isn’t it? It was a bad tweet. A poor attempt to be topical. He wasn’t trying to capitalize on the suffering in the streets of Cairo to sell product. Really? If anything, that he said these (violent) riots were somehow associated with his new spring collection is just bad advertising.
The fact that Kenneth Cole tweets at all is big. And I think it’s great. He has less than 10K followers, and that number hasn’t moved much today, so it’s not like he’s routinely captivating/influencing a huge audience with his thousand tweets. As far as I can tell from his stream, he’s not the total dick that everyone is making him out to be. From what I can tell, Cole tries to engage here. I admire that. He had a bad tweet. And he apologized for it on Facebook – but is STILL getting beat up for it over there. Really?
As far as the social media police saying that this tweet is evidence that no CEO should dare be themselves in social media because they don’t fully understand how all of this works – are you kidding me? We should encourage famous people be themselves here, not turn them into automatons. Automatonic tweeting is for customer service representatives in this space. If the CEO wants to engage – let the fucking CEO engage. Just give him the information he needs to do it right (or, rather, to do it with less controversy.)
Here’s what I’d tell Kenneth Cole.
1. Learn to trust someone.
2. Run a tweet by the person you trust before you push anything that could even remotely be considered insensitive. Or stupid. Especially now.
3. Be yourself. Screw the social media experts. Just keep in mind that there are wolves out here who want nothing more than to feast on you (or any famous person) to prove how smart they are.
This is the only way your BoD is going to let you keep tweeting without insisting that everything run through a public relations team first. In which case, you may as well stop altogehter because your stream will become inauthentic.
As for the events in Egypt, I’m pretty sure the revolutionaries could give a damn about any of this.
5 CommentsLEAVE A COMMENT
Feb 4, 2011
JimI agree but I have a bit to add (shocking, I know). Ok he is experienced. He knows how to market his brand. I at no time do I think he had any ill intentions whatsoever. He designs, manufacturers and sells clothes. He is not new to this. The fact that he tweets is a big deal. Could this have been a situation where he took the risk to get the buzz for the line not realizing the whole impact it would have? I just keep thinking that he is so experienced and knows what to say and what not to say. He has been interviewed, at shows, in the spotlight so he knows. Now this tweet was incredibly insensitive but man it got us buzzing and we were buzzing about the tweet and the spring line. The tweet will be forgotten but the line will not be.
Feb 4, 2011
I can’t believe anyone thinks this one tweet will take down the company. Still, pros realize that gaffs like this can have a ripple effect through your reputation, and can haunt you long after you think people have forgotten.I think it’s great that Kenneth Cole is tweeting too. I also think your suggestion to run tweets by someone is a good one, at least until he gets used to filtering himself better. The thing that’s funny about this post is that you say “Be yourself. Screw the social media experts.” But the social media experts – who are really just communicators who understand the implications of wide-reaching tools like twitter – are saying exactly what you’re saying: think before you speak. Rely on someone you trust to guide you. But then again, anyone can manage a company’s communications. Just like anyone can write copy 😉
Feb 4, 2011
I think there’s a fine line here: No, a single Tweet won’t (and shouldn’t) crumble an empire. On the other hand, I think we’ve become too accustomed to the idea that you can say/do/be anything you want and not face any consequences.Should there be a boycott of Kenneth Cole? No. Well, maybe. What do I know? But there should be some way to communicate to his business that consumers just don’t dig this kind of stupidity.If he’s listening, engaging, monitoring the Twitter stream, hearing feedback — whatever you wanna call it — that’s good. And an apology and lesson learned is good enough for me. But sometimes companies don’tdo all those things, and that’s when a little jab at their bottom line gets their attention.Like I said…fine line. Glad to hear this one falls under the “lesson learned” category, and that folks like you are calling for civility and a reality check.
Feb 4, 2011
You are right, Jim. But, in the social media age boycotts are out of style. Today’s crowd prefers a good parody or mocking, such as the famous fake BP Twitter account. Now there is http://twitter.com/kennethcolePR
Feb 5, 2011
I try to keep it short and simple. First: I hate it too that everyone now jumps on the kenneth cole train in order to pull out some hypocritical posts or whatever. But on the other hand: If you, as CEO (or as ‘normal’ twitter user), publish bullshit, you should not get away with it. Be yourself, write what you feel…fine! But don’t be an asshole. And if you are an asshole, be prepared for the consequences. If a simple “I am sorry” on facebook would be enough it would be just to easy.
My novel – Minor King
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