A set of keys

Being a brand on social media isn’t easy. As someone who is responsible for a brand’s social media presence, I can tell you that it can be a pretty stressful job. Representing a brand online isn’t like representing yourself. Unlike your approach to your personal accounts, you can’t just whimsically throw out a tweet when you’re using a company’s handle.

You can't just whimsically throw out a tweet when you're using a company's handleClick To Tweet

As a community manager, you have to think about things like brand standards, potential regulatory or legal issues, tone of voice, and timing. You think tweeting about lunch is hard? Try writing about a tax technology roadmap.

You can probably tell that I take my role as a social media manager very seriously. I happen to think that being given access to an organization’s social channels means more than just scheduling messages and replying to comments. You’re essentially becoming the voice of that brand, and that is a massive responsibility.

You’ll understand why then, I feel so strongly about brands who still don’t seem to get social media. Case in point: Head and Shoulders.

The background

Last month, a Twitter user with the handle @issa_pltnm (CHANCLA GOD) posted a message about Head & Shoulders:

As is usually the case in this type of situation, the person behind the Head and Shoulders account replied thanking the user for her tweet:

All of this is pretty typical stuff. Social media management 101, even. What’s not typical is what happened next.

CHANCLA says that Head and Shoulders paid to promote her tweet, essentially using her handle, picture and message (typo and all) to promote their product. As a result, CHANCLA started getting some pretty harsh comments on her Twitter feed.

CHANCLA says that Head and Shoulders connected with her over Direct Message on Twitter and indicated they might retweet her. They didn’t say anything about using her tweet in a promotional manner, especially in a way where she is not receiving any compensation for it.

Alyssa Weiss, a Head & Shoulders spokesperson, wrote to Gawker’s Sam Biddle and gave the company’s side of the story:

Thanks for reaching out! We do have written permission from this consumer to promote her tweet. Furthermore, Twitter nor P&G allow brands to promote consumer tweets without this written consent.

If you’d like to discuss further, please give me a call at the number below.


Why it’s important to have a mature social media manager

I think this exchange shows the immaturity of the Head and Shoulders social media team. An experienced community manager would have stopped the exchange after their reply to the customer. Even with express written consent from CHANCLA, there are several reasons promoting the tweet was a bad idea:

  1. The company was essentially saying they were okay with having CHANCLA as a brand ambassador. This decision was clearly made on the fly and without any significant research being done. What if CHANCLA’s timeline was full of racist or bigoted posts? Would that be something Head and Shoulders would want associated with their product? Engaging with influencers as part of your marketing efforts is one thing, stealing a customer’s tweet for your own benefit is another.
  2. Paying to promote a tweet with a typo shows the lack of regard to the brand’s standards. Typos happen, I’ve sent out my fair share of company messages that contained typos. That being said, I wouldn’t let a tweet that I was paying to get seen be in circulation very long with a typo. I can understand the urgency with which the Head and Shoulders social media team acted. It was a very nice message from a customer and everyone knows, brands are always looking for their own Oreo moment. You can’t ignore your responsibility to represent the brand in a professional manner, especially when you’re paying to promote the message.
  3. I’ve run promoted Tweet campaigns and I can tell you that a lot of people do not appreciate having your brand’s message show up in their timeline. By promoting CHANCLA’s tweet, Head and Shoulders essentially made her the scapegoat for the negative replies the tweet generated. She was the one having to deal with the rude comments, not the company’s social media team.

As I mentioned above, being responsible for a company’s online presence is not an easy job. You’re always having to monitor and stay on top of what is being said to you and about you. Timeliness is important, but as we’ve seen before, you can’t make a hasty decision on social media when you’re representing a brand.

Mistakes on social media happen – quite often. Replying to the wrong person or pasting a wrong message can happen with just a few taps on the keyboard. However, the decision to promote a customer’s tweet on a whim is a much more serious error and really speaks to the lack of understanding of what’s involved with representing a brand online.

As for CHANCLA, she’s already switched to Tresemmé‎.

Top image courtesy of Linus Bohman