Kenneth Cole Fails Not Once But Twice on Twitter

If a social media fail happens more than once is it still considered an accident? Yes, I am talking about Kenneth Cole tweeting not once, but twice, about shoes and controversial war topics. This type of cringe-worthy content requires a good recovery plan and recognition that these actions have ramifications, which include loss of followers, customers, loyalty and respect. Let’s look at some of these tweets and how Kenneth Cole recovered from them.

The Expected Recovery

In September 2011, Cole tweeted the following amidst tension and violence building in Egypt.

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In this instance, Cole was trying to make a joke by saying that the uproar in Cairo must be because of the Kenneth Cole new spring collection. Cole recovered by apologizing a few hours later on Facebook, deleting the tweet, and calling his actions insensitive.

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This recovery was timely and direct, but many still viewed it as the easy way out. People who commented on the post anticipated that it would be taken down and knew that an apology was in order. Despite Cole’s apology, comments and outrage continued among followers. Although Cole made a good effort, crisis plans can always be improved. In this case, Cole could have been more thoughtful and personal in his response by tweeting at users apologizing individually, in addition to his Facebook apology.

Recover and Make an Impact

Clearly one twitter fail was not enough, because Cole crossed the line again in September 2013 when posting another tweet about shoes and war.

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In this case, Cole responded to the criticism differently, explaining his choice to post this tweet with a video on Instagram. In the video (link he says, “For 30 years I have used my platform in provocative ways to encourage a healthy dialogue about important issues, including HIV/AIDS, war, and homelessness.”

This recovery is more thought out and planned. Cole speaks to his audience, addressing concerns and explaining his actions. I think his messaging was smart and purposeful, making this recovery much more effective.

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Following these instances, Cole included a small disclosure portion on his Twitter feed bio, which reads, “Designer, Aspiring Humanitarian, Frustrated Activist, Social Networker In training. My tweets are not representative of the corporate @kennethcole feed.” This bio addition is strategic for the Kenneth Cole brand, allowing Cole himself to have his own thoughts, opinions and be able to express these freely.

Social Media Fail Lessons Learned

  1. Consider the context of your tweets. Is this a controversial topic? Do you want this to be a part of you or your brand’s digital footprint?
  1. Recover with grace. Mistakes happen, so come up with the best possible recovery plan. This may be a public apology, news release or social media post, but make sure the recovery addresses the post and does not seem like the easy way out.
  1. Do not make the same mistake twice. This makes your first apology seem insignificant and now you have to work twice as hard to recover.
  1. Cover your bases. This might mean including a disclaimer on public figures profiles associated with your brand or including a statement about the brand’s beliefs on its website.
  1. Tag individuals in your apologies. This is a simple and personal way to show followers that you recognize their dissatisfaction and are taking steps to ensure the incident does not happen again.
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