read the sordid details on Mashable, but it is a story we have seen before--an employee intended a tweet for his or her personal account but instead posted it on a corporate account. This tweet happened to rank high on the offensiveness scale, making it an even more egregious mistake: “Obamas gma even knew it was going 2 b bad! ‘She died 3 days b4 he became president’. #nbcpolitics”
(On a side note, it is ironic this was posted just days after I encouraged people to post more about politics within their personal social networks. Let the record show that I stated that "mocking candidates or supporters" was out of bounds. And, in any event, a joke about a person's deceased grandmother is neither political nor in good taste.)
KitchenAid is handling this unpleasant event well. And, as could be expected, this situation has launched a thousands blog posts offering advice to brands on how to avoid this blunder. Rather than offer my own new take, I am going to refer you back to the advice I shared in May 2011. This was when I came close to being one of those cautionary tales; I posted a personal status update on my employer's Facebook profile.
I have read lengthy lists of tips on how to avoid making the same mistake we've now seen with Chrysler, Red Cross and KitchenAid. The tips are fine, but as I said almost a year and a half ago, there are just two things you need to do to avoid making the same error:
- Have a personal filter: The fact you are responsible for a company's social media profile doesn't mean everything you say personally has to reflect the brand's personality, but you must consider the implications of your posts. First, once you are officially associated with a brand, anything you say in your Twitter or other social media streams can reflect upon your employer. Plus, there's always the chance you pull a KitchenAid (or an Augie) and mix your personal thoughts into the company's channel.
- Keep them separated: As The Offspring said, you gotta keep 'em separated--your personal and professional social media tools, that is. For Twitter management, it is too easy to set up both your personal and professional accounts in a single Twitter client such as HootSuite. Doing so is a recipe for danger. Use different Twitter clients for different purposes, and you'll greatly reduce the risk.
Someone at KitchenAid made a career-altering mistake. Do not let this happen to you. Consider whether the content you post is the sort of thing with which you (and your employer) wish to be associated, and use different tools for business and personal posting to avoid making a silly but painful error.