Apple’s recent unveiling of a new suite of emojis quickly whipped up a frenzy among reporters, bloggers and social media users. From an updated prayer emoji to new flags to a secret Vulcan salute emoji, it’s no wonder why people are excited!
But, perhaps the most trending aspect of this update are the additions of diverse emojis, including access to different skin tones and both opposite-sex and same-sex parent families.
Last year, a petition on DoSomething.org kicked off a campaign to encourage Apple to do something about the lack of diversity and inclusion in its emojis. The petition ended up going viral, partly because celebrities like Miley Cyrus and Tahj Mowry were tweeting about the issue.
After Apple released the new emojis in the iOS 8.3 update, brands quickly seized the opportunity to be a part of the online conversation. Yet again, another major brand made headlines for a social media fail. In response to the trending emojis topic, Clorox had tweeted “where’s the bleach” with an emoji illustration of its infamous bleach bottle.
Although the social media administrator(s) at Clorox thought it was clever to create a bottle of bleach out of emojis, the tweet completely missed the mark with a bleaching comment. User @jazzmen_k tweeted: “.@Clorox social media meeting: Hey, they added emojis with darker skin color! OK, COOL. Tweet a bleaching joke. Make it funny.”
To reiterate, it’s not only important to do research on why the topic is trending, but to also understand what the conversation is surrounding the actual topic!
Many tweeters voiced their anger at a tweet they found to be racist. Twitter user @DriNicole attempted to explain to Clorox why she thought it was wrong by tweeting “black emojis were added today. Saying this implies you’d rather the emojis be only white, by adding bleach.”
To make matters worse, Clorox took a while to delete the offending tweet. This made the brand’s apology hard to take seriously, especially since the emojis they were referring to weren’t even used in their illustration of a bleach bottle.
It’s important for brands to learn from these mistakes going forward. “History repeats itself because no one was listening the first time.” -Anonymous
Here are four key takeaways from similar social media mishaps:
1) It’s not only important to do research on why the topic is trending, but to also understand what the conversation is surrounding the actual topic. (Yes, this is the third time it was mentioned in this blog post. It’s that important!)
2) Make sure all social media posts are reviewed by three or more – diverse – people. Having multiple eyeballs reviewing content and bringing in various types of backgrounds into the conversation will help shed light on different viewpoints. It’s like having a mini-focus group at your disposal. Some people might scoff at this notion or feel like they don’t have the time, staff or resources to make this happen. Always remember…social media is public and can make or break a brand’s reputation in a matter of seconds. Is it important enough now? (The answer is always yes.)
3) When you make a social media mistake like Clorox, immediately delete the tweet. Social media is a full-time job because it constantly needs to be monitored. It’s not just about pushing out content, but also reviewing mentions and conversations and responding in a timely fashion. (I hate when Beyoncé doesn’t respond to my tweets! Seriously though, we all just want to be heard.)
4) A response or apology should always be well thought out, honest and heartfelt. It helps to prepare a crisis communications plan in the event of an emergency, which can be tailored to address the situation at hand. Any statements should be altered into your own words to express your true thoughts and feelings. This will help reduce lag time in between making a mistake and actually apologizing, while still allowing for a heartfelt response. (To be clear, you should not be copying and pasting your drafted remarks. Always be transparent, authentic and genuine.)