#Aurora, And The Dangers Of Outsourcing Your Social Media

Hijacking a trending topic isn’t new for brands involved in social media, but it does come with a certain amount of risk. Here’s what happens when you’re not paying attention.

#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. 


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]

About the author

Rich Brooks is founder and president of flyte new media (, a Web design and Internet marketing firm in Portland, Maine. His monthly flyte log email newsletter and company blog ( focus on Web marketing topics such as search engine optimization, blogs, social media, email marketing, and building Web sites that sell.