Gaffes in Social Media this Week

It’s been an interesting week in Social Media. I love looking at case studies, and today I have two for you.


Chapstick recently launched a new ad campaign. It’s a photo of a woman’s butt (wearing jeans) as she bends over the couch, looking for her lost tube of ChapStick. The caption reads: Where do lost ChapSticks go?

Okay, so some people found this offensive, and wrote blog posts about it, and posted their comments to ChapStick’s Facebook page. What happened next is the interesting part: ChapStick deleted the negative comments, which, in essence, was like adding gas to a fire.

The outpouring of anger was pretty fierce, and ChapStick finally issued a (lame) apology.

Read more here.

Ashton Kutcher

I don’t follow Ashton Kutcher (@aplusk) on Twitter. But I do have a certain amount of respect for him as a Twitterer. I really feel like he was the first celebrity to “get” Twitter, and to really use it in a good way, not just as a way of selling their stuff. He actually communicates stuff that is happening in his life via Twitter.

Well, last week, he came home and saw on TV that Joe Paterno, the Penn State Football coach, had been fired, and tweeted his his disappointment. Turns out, he sent the tweet before he knew the entire story: the coach had been fired due to allegations of sexual impropriety. Kutcher immediately sent out another tweet recanting his first, and apologized.

The upshot of the situation? Kutcher is handing his feed over to a management company to make sure such a mistake doesn’t happen again.

Read more here.

In the ChapStick case study, there wasn’t enough transparency, and the Ashton Kutcher case, there was too much.

Here’s the thing that bugs me: Ashton Kutcher did (almost) everything right. Yes, he could have checked his facts before he sent that tweet, but honestly, which of us hasn’t sent something out, which we later found out was not true? Or how many of us have forwarded those “This is a scam, there’s a virus” emails, which always seemed to end up being an urban myth?

The great thing about social media is that people are incredibly forgiving as long as you admit your mistakes. ChapStick did not, and essentially made the situation worse. Kutcher did the right thing, and yet is still freaked out enough by it to hand over his twitter feed to a handler. I don’t like it. If social media is all about transparency, what’s transparent about having someone tweet on your behalf?

I would love to hear your thoughts on this: feel free to weigh in.

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Rebecca Coleman

Social Media Marketing Strategist, Blogger, Author, Teacher, Trainer. Passionate foodie, mom to Michael, fueled by Americanos. I love my bike. Soon-to-be cookbook author. Localvore with a wanderlust.

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