Thursday, March 10, 2011

Did Chrysler F-up their F-Bomb?

Mistakes happen…in business and in our personal lives. Yesterday, Chrylser was presented with a sticky situation when an employee at one of their new media agencies tweeted the F-bomb on their @ChryslerAutos account. A few hours later the Big Three automaker announced the person at the agency, New Media Strategies, had been terminated. In the impersonal, big brother-like post, Chrysler apologizes and condemns “inappropriate language or behavior". A lot of people were turned off by this apology…just read the comments section. I’m curious if the employee was fired on a push from Chrysler or independently from a NMS executive.

It’s now being compared to a recent Red Cross incident, where an employee tweeted about going out and drinking some brews on the official Red Cross account, unfortunately assuming it was their personal Twitter account. She later confessed her inability to use Hootsuite correctly. The woman was not fired and the Red Cross cleverly, while not dismissing a mistake, used humor and even charitable methods to address the minor crisis.

I have mixed feelings about this recent incident and Chrysler’s reaction, which reminds me of the Domino's Pizza response from their president, Patrick Doyle (after a booger sandwich video from a local franchise became viral). Although he was undeniably impersonal in the video, at least Domino's used a human to represent their remorse. So far, I feel Chrysler’s reaction is typical of the company in general when it comes to using social networks and blogs. Let’s face it; they have not even jumped on the social bandwagon until recently. While Ford and GM have put together excellent social media and digital communications teams and campaigns in the last few years, Chrysler's been slow to come on board (perhaps spending most of their marketing budget on pricey TV ads). I do think if this incident happened with a Ford or GM Twitter account, we’d see the apology or response much more personable, if not clever and maybe even viral. And believe it or not, listening to and engaging with consumers online really does help automotive profits…ask Scott Monty or Christopher Barger.

Personally, I’m not offended by much online. I don’t care that someone at Red Cross likes to have a few beers or that a New Media Strategies employee uses the F word. I often think these social media crises are silly and a waste of a lot of people’s time and attention. But a lot of people do care, and just like traditional PR crises, social media crises (big or small) need to be addressed. A line should be drawn within organizations about appropriate online language, and even though social media allows for more transparency, honesty and humanistic behavior, employees should follow some guidelines when representing their company.

So what do you think? Would you have fired this employee? And what would you have done for a better apology and response? I’ll be interested in seeing how the agency reacts as well.

UPDATE: Chrysler has now terminated their account with New Media Strategies according to Chrysler also added an update to their blog this afternoon (using the Eminem TV ad as support of their dedication to Detroit and its people). So not surprisingly this comment sprung up: "You think Eminem is a positive face for the city of Detroit? Which one of his debilitating character flaws would you like to talk about? Drugs? Guns? Homophobia? Abuse and threats to kill his wife? Your audience can read an f-bomb, because they obviously listen to them."

Friday, March 4, 2011

“Heading to the Gym”: Dislike

I know a lot of people who do this: friends, family and even well-respected social media professionals. So, this will not sit comfortably with many of you. Regardless, this is for you:

Why do I give a crap that you are at the gym? That you just did 30 squats and 40 minutes of cardio? That you only consumed 1,000 calories today? I started seeing these daily workout and diet stats on Twitter a couple of years ago. Two years later the app businesses are thriving from all of you with hundreds of fitness apps that now appear regularly on FB too. COME ON! Ask yourself exactly what it is that made you think all of the world cares that you are at the gym spinning. What comments or feelings were you hoping to derive from your network? Is it a cry for a mate? I’m not single, and even if I was, I’d be sure to label you as an either arrogant or extremely desperate schmuck.

Okay, okay, I realize you might tell me you do it for different reasons than I'm debating. It could have nothing to do with the fact you're attention-starved announcing to all your Facebook friends how fit, determined and motivated you are.

Yes, there are a few valid benefits to fitness apps. Some people use them as an online motivational support system to complement or even replace personal training sessions. Or maybe it’s just the location awareness and you're hoping someone who saw your Foursquare post is at the same gym to erotically spot you during weight training. This sits better with me because there's a real purpose other than just bragging to me, and you might even go home lucky!

Perhaps you need more inspiration, motivation, or maybe just the Stuart Smalley feeling of being doggone liked. Well, there are other methods in the real world to endure these feelings without spamming my social world. Let’s see…real-life friends (those are the ones you can see and touch *in person*), therapy, family, antidepressants…all come to mind.

There’s an obvious wealth of benefits to fitness and exercise in general, that point is moot. I just don’t need to hear about yours! I’m not the only one here who feels you are annoying and even fitness types find you obnoxious. Why, there are even FB pages dedicated to the aversion of you.

Some of you may ask me why this should bother me as much as it does. Maybe I’m the one with insecurity issues. Okay, so you have a small point. I could have just read your “6-mile run and 1-hour weight resistance…GO ME!” tweet while I was snug on my couch after eating a big spaghetti meal. I may have felt a bit lethargic, full and even sloth-like. And then I see your tweet and feel slightly stagnant, slightly unmotivated, and overly bloated. Well, worry not, I will not bore you with my ‘call out for attention’ stat…I’ll just have some more spaghetti.

Photo from DeSales University