#Aurora, And The Dangers Of Outsourcing Your Social Media

On Friday, Twitter was abuzz with discussions about the Aurora, Colorado shooting at a midnight showing of the new Batman movie. 

As often happens with big news stories, "#Aurora" became a trending topic on Twitter in the U.S., meaning that the phrase—in this case the hashtag—was one of the most popular words being tweeted at that time.

Since many people follow these trending topics to follow a news story, many people and brands "hijack" these hashtags to increase their own visibility. 

And not for the first time—nor sadly the last—someone neglected to check the reason why the word was trending before they jumped all over it. "#Aurora is trending, clearly about our Kim K inspired #Aurora dress ;) Shop [link]..." tweeted @celebboutique. 

Ouch.

The backlash started almost immediately. Disgust, horror, and disbelief were some of the responses.

Unfortunately, the response from Celeb Boutique was nowhere near as quick, and the offending tweet sat out there gathering retweets and responses. 

Finally, after an hour or two, the tweet was taken down and a four tweet response/apology was posted.

Celeb Boutique isn't the first brand to tweet without thinking. Kenneth Cole certainly misread the moment when he mitook the Egyptian revolution as an opportunity to sell shoes. Ashton Kutcher had apparently not been reading the news when he tweeted that firing Joe Paterno showed "no class."

Celeb Boutique's excuse was that it had outsourced its tweeting overseas, where apparently the Aurora shooting wasn't as big news, or perhaps was identified by the town, but rather by the country or by Batman. 

Regardless, if you're trying to increase your visibility by jumping on a bandwagon, you should at least find out what the bandwagon is all about.

A simple review of the #Aurora feed would have told the tweeter that the topic was not ripe for pushing a Kim Kardashian dress. 

Whether the fault lies in not paying attention to the trending topics you hijack, or outsourcing your social media in general, I'm sure there will be plenty of discussion in the Celeb Boutique offices over the next few days, as well as throughout social media agencies worldwide. 

What do you think? Is the fail on Celeb Boutique or the agency they hired—and is a four-tweet apology enough? 

[Image: Flickr user Steve Jurvetson]

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7 Comments

  • Michael Bian

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  • Trevor K. Nelson

    The fail is on both companies. Celeb Boutique chose to subcontract out a portion of it's business, but they're responsible for that company's actions on their behalf. It's similar to Nike's issue with sweatshop labor. "We didn't know" isn't a valid excuse anymore. At the same time, the contractor (presumably) claimed expertise in the world of social media. That they just grabbed on to a trending topic and 'assumed' a connection shows that they don't have that expertise. Celeb Boutique should have vetted them a bit better. 

  • Harsh

    When you outsource your services (of any nature) to another country, there's bound to be a culture clash, which also means that the company needs to be vigilant about the content that goes from its mouth. I dont think there needs to be a bigger apology if the brand has realizes its insensitive yet inadvertent blurb. 

    Let's also accept that all humans, not just marketeers, have the tendency to ride on the large wave. Such things, as rightly put in the article, are bound to happen. Ignoring them, instead of making them as NEWS, might be a more rational approach. 

  • Marvin Tumbo

    I think the headline on this story is BS. Its not about outsourcing social media that led to these silly remarks. Stupid people or comments are everywhere in house and for every one instance that you can show where an outrageous comment was made by an outsourced firm, I can show you ten that were made in-house. There is no excuse for not knowing what a trending topic is about on whichever planet you live on, period. 

  • Beatrix

    >>
    A simple review of the #Aurora feed would have told the tweeter that the topic was not ripe for pushing a Kim Kardashian dress.<<

    I couldn't agree more with that sentiment, and at least one someone should likely be fired. However, aren't we being a wee bit overzealous with the outsourcing label? I mean, I know it's a big deal in the US (and I think most Americans are more offended by offshoring than outsourcing, although they don't seem to know the difference). I see nothing surprising in the fact that a UK company's PR isn't based in the US. Nowhere do they say whether their PR is in-house or handled by agency. I could email the press contact listed on their website. But I'm not a journalist and fact-checking isn't what I do.

  • Blade Branding

    This is definitely a fail on the agency's part. They are not ready to be doing social media if this kind of mistake can happen. The time it took to make an apology is unacceptable. I'm not sure what the apology should have consisted of. Responses directly to the outraged tweets? Hopefully they keep the twitter followers they have left informed of how they plan on avoiding this in the future. 

  • Rich Brooks

    Oddly, the followers SPIKED by about a thousand followers, probably to see what would come next. No word on whether sales spiked or dipped.