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.