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Airbnb is an online company that lets people rent extra space in their homes to overseas visitors, or lets people find unique places to stay anywhere in the world. The San Francisco home of a “host” was allegedly trashed by someone staying there through the site, leading to the airbnb co-founder and CEO Brian Chesky to issue a belated apology and outline new security procedures.
Make what will from the apology, but I find this a very clever way to build trust and alert more people to your company. The first I’d ever heard of airbnb was the Tweet which said: “We screwed up and we’re sorry. Here’s how we’re making it right: http://t.co/X6WWntj. Naturally I had a look, and now I’m pretty interested in their method of house swapping. Social media win!
There is the cynic in me who says this could be a clever way for a company to promote security procedures, even so does shows how being straight with the public when after a company has acted poorly can be a lot more useful than putting up shutters and trying to cover things up.
Time and time again we see it, people and brands making foolish mistakes with significant repercussions within the world of social media. Nestle famously botched things up for themselves by demanding a fake Kit Kat commercial (produced by Greenpeace) slamming them for their use of Palm Oil, be removed from the web. The video which up until that point was far from a viral success, suddenly went around the globe faster than Greenpeace could have dreamt it to. All thanks to Nestle ruffling feather. The public barrage aimed at Nestles poor handling of the case and sudden attention on their use of Palm Oil did not do them any favours and is now a case study that I personally feel every client should take note of.
One would think that with such a large brand going through such a public PR battle via social channels, some lessons would be learnt.
Fashion designer Kenneth Cole is the latest to thoughtlessly act via a social media platform and surprise surprise, is now watching his brand fall from grace. Kenneth made the very foolish choice to hijiack a hashtag in Twitter to promote his latest collection. Now hashtag hijacking is not rare, but it’s use can not be taken lightly. To do it requires very strategic thinking or it can backfire. Like in this case. See image below:
The Cairo hashtag was being used as a news source to share events from troubled Eygpt. The most insensitive thing about this, is that a significant amount of people are losing their lives due to the unrest. This is no time at all for a brand, representing something as irrelevant as fashion, to hijack a hashtag where concerned users are sharing serious content.
But I will give credit to Kenneth Cole for addressing his stupidity via an apology post. Despite it seeming to be heartfelt, he has opened himself up to an onslaught of criticism. See the comments here.
Surely it’s time that we, as brands (and even individuals – no need to remind us all of Stephanie Rice’s Twitter mishap where she lost her Jaguar sponsorship), learn that as we join online conversations we are involving ourselves in a very transparent and dynamic environment. We must think logically and strategically and above anything else, we must use some common sense.
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