Crisis on Social Media: Lesson from KitchenAid

What Happened?

On Oct. 3rd 2012 — the night of presidential debate in the US, @KitchenAidUSA tweeted a poorly spelled comment on its Twitter feed to over 25,000 followers about President Obama’s grandmother, who died shortly before he took office in 2008.

The full tweet from @KitchenAidUSA, while quickly deleted, was rapidly retweeted by many people who saw it appear during the debate.

@KitchenAidUSA immediately issued an apology on Twitter:

And the head of branding for KitchenAid USA, Cynthia Soledad, posted several apologies after 15 mins:

She also wrote an email to “Mashable” to explain what happened — “During the debate tonight, a member of our Twitter team mistakenly posted an offensive tweet from the KitchenAid handle instead of a personal handle. The tasteless joke in no way represents our values at KitchenAid, and that person won’t be tweeting for us anymore. That said, I lead the KitchenAid brand, and I take responsibility for the whole team. I am deeply sorry to President Obama, his family, and the Twitter community for this careless error. Thanks for hearing me out.

…as well as responded on Twitter:

Some people saw as a lesson for social media managers, while some reactions benefited KitchenAid’s rivals Breville and Cuisinart. Other people respected KitchenAid’s apologetic response.

Honesty and Speed Matter — Good Job KitchenAid!

KitchenAid being able to quickly identify the issue and respond in a time manner is key in this case. Having the head of branding, Cynthia, to provide honest explanation and personal apology was well received and the damage to the brand reputation was limited as a result. This thing happen, and if a mistake does happen it should be addressed immediately. Time moves very quickly on social media, so companies need to take decisive action as quickly as KicthenAid — in this case, deleting inappropriate post, separating personal and the company, and having someone who is in charge to explain and apologize. As an audience I do feel the sincere apology from Cynthia and believe that this might also happen in other companies. It is an unfortunate mistake.

What Could Have Done Better?

Well we knew the person who posted the tweets is no longer working in KitchenAid, but there’s no update regarding how KitchenAid would avoid from such incident happening again. If I were Cynthia, maybe another followup email to Mashable to talk about how KitchenAid would better control their social media account in the future would not be a bad idea.