There’s no doubt that Twitter has become the fastest way for a person or company to communicate directly to fans or consumers on an extremely personal level, but what happens when a tweet goes wrong? Most would assume that controversial or offensive tweets would hurt a brand rather than lead to success. Well, Kenneth Cole believes that his style of posting controversial, insensitive and timely tweets is a good piece of his business model structure and to a certain extent, he has a point.
Take a look at his tweet from two weeks ago:
Seems hard to believe this self-proclaimed “designer with a conscience” could post something humorous about possibility of a Syrian war in order to promote shoes without repercussions. But, this is exactly what he wanted. After a host of angry tweets and outraged followers, Cole dishes in the upcoming October edition of Details magazine that he isn’t sorry for this tweet or for his controversial 2011 Cairo tweet that produced a parody account as well.
…our stock went up that day, our e-commerce business was better, the business at every one of our stores improved, and I picked up 3,000 new followers on Twitter. So on what criteria is this a gaffe? Within hours, I tweeted an explanation, which had to be vetted by lawyers. I’m not even sure I used the words I’m sorry—because I wasn’t sorry.
While this strategy may have increased Cole’s stock and Twitter followers, how will this plan affect his brand and reputation? Cole, who confirmed that he constructs most of the tweets on his @KennethCole account, says he simply wants to start a conversation through these tweets but audiences may beg to differ.
What do you think? Is this Twitter strategy a successful tool in a company’s business model? Or is this strategy a short-term “15 minutes of fame” stunt that will ultimately end up hurting the brand’s reputation and public relations? Also, what does this say about humanity’s Twitter behavior? Do we value controversy and scandal above sensitivity and trust?