While every citizen is entitled to voice his or her opinion about politics and politicians, it is inconceivable that a business would allow such a message to be released via a corporate communications channel. There is no question about whether or not a political message might offend a customer or potential customer - it is certain to offend somebody. All the apologies and backtracking in the world will not make this problem go away anytime soon for KitchenAid.
What can a business learn from KitchenAid's pain?
- Stay away from politics - national, local or global - in your social media engagements. You can't win enough friends to offset those you will lose.
- Filter everything.
- Filter it again.
- Don't put control of your social media in the hands of some young hotshot who may understand the technology but does not have a clue about the message.
- Have a strict, written social media policy.
- Develop a core message about the corporation, your products and services that serves as the basis for all messaging, including advertising, public relations and social media. This helps avoid the problem of someone trying to be "hip and cool" only to see it blow up in your face.
Time will probably heal the burns KitchenAid has suffered as a result of their damaging Tweet. It is up to the rest of us to benefit from their mistake to help us avoid making our own.