Do you know what tactics your PR team is using in social media?
UK furniture giant Habitat clearly doesn’t and it just cost them a huge reputation blackeye in the Twitter community.
They even tweeted hashtags used by those protesting the Iranian election, so you can imagine the backlash they’d receive, right?
Well, apparently Habitat was blissfully unaware of the whole scandal. In an open apology letter to the Twitter community, “Claire” from Habitat’s Head Office alluded to the fact the hashtag use had not been approved:
The top ten trending topics were pasted into hashtags without checking with us and apparently without verifying what all of the tags referred to. This was absolutely not authorised by Habitat.
Er, yes it was. Unless someone hacked into your Twitter account, you did authorize the use of those hashtags. Whether it was explicit or not, that doesn’t matter. If an employee or outside PR firm had your permission to run the account, then you gave them permission to add hashtags. I’m sorry, but unless you show me a document that explicitly outlines the prevention of this tactic, the buck stops with “Head Office.”
I don’t like to post online reputation management examples just for the sake of it–I’d just add to the noise. So, what can you take away from this?
As I warn my clients, you can’t just jump into social media without taking ownership of the voice. Where’s the transparency in that? Whether you hand the responsibility to an intern or a PR firm, you need to be fully aware of what’s being said and assume full responsibility. If you’re so hands-off that you have no clue what’s being posted on your behalf, it would be better that you just shutdown that social networking profile right this minute.
Your stakeholders want to hear your voice at the other end of the social networking “line.” If you’re faking it, then you’ll get called out. In this case, it appears Habitat has learned that lesson the hard way.