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Hal Licino

What Marketers Can Learn from the KC Chiefs’ Social Media Fumble

Sep 18 2012, 11:19 AM by

Football addiction doesn’t benefit from the wealth of medical research allocated to narcotics and alcohol, but it is nonetheless a serious ailment that affects millions of people around the country. As a fan who bleeds Buc Red & Pewter, I am personally affected by Coach Schiano ordering his troops to act like thugs and knock over a knee-down Eli Manning as much as I would be if I discovered that a family member had taken to robbing banks.

For the throng of fans who live, eat and breathe NFL football to the point that they think that Obama vs. Romney is a coaching battle in the Big East, the events on the gridiron take on momentous overtones where nothing else really matters. When a KC fan recently tweeted his displeasure with the Chiefs’ performance, relating it to an allegedly cheapskate owner, not only did the official @kcchiefs reply directly to blast the fan, but they even blocked him. This turned out to be the social media equivalent of Saints QB Aaron Brooks making a backwards pass in the 2004 game against the Chargers: A play so profoundly boneheaded that you have to wonder if infamous NFL blunderbuss Leon Lett had been hired by the Chiefs to run their social media program.
The Three Commandments of Social Media Interaction
The Chiefs’ massive social media gaffe was amplified by the fact that the subject of their retaliation was one Travis Wright @teedubya who defines himself as a Digital Interactive Awesomizer & Marketing Provocateur and has managed to accumulate an eighth of a million followers. Wright is the poster boy for social media influencing and, in their counterattack, the community managers of @kcchiefs picked on a high-profile social personality that they would have been wise to avoid. In this case the Kansas City Chiefs organization managed to violate The Three Commandments Of Social Media Interaction that should never be ignored by any online brand presence under any circumstances:
  1. Thou shalt not slap influencers – If you think that there is a built-in caste system on the social web, you’re absolutely right. There are a relative handful of individuals who have managed to forge a personal profile above the hubbub and white noise inherent to the internet and whose opinions are carefully considered by hundreds of thousands of others. As in the case with Wright, he not only managed to portray his displeasure with @kcchiefs through his social networking, but broadcast media outlets around the country interviewed him as well, amplifying his influence from his followers to the countless millions of sports fans.

  2. Thou shalt swiftly apologize when wrong – The community manager of the Chiefs eventually was pressured into apologizing for the slam to Wright, but by then it was far too late. The best way to avoid an apology is to not commit the transgression in the first place, but if you simply can’t help but shoot first and ask questions later, the best way to proceed is to immediately admit that you made a mistake and issue a contrite apology.

  3. Thou shalt train thy people – To the followers of your brand, every post and every tweet is an officially sanctioned communication from your C-suite, not just the ill-advised ranting of a lowly-paid and possibly hung over community manager. When Chrysler blasts Detroit drivers or when FedEx’s PR Agency tweets that they would die if they had to live in the courier’s hub city of Memphis, no one attributes human frailty to the post. It’s on the official account and it’s the official word. Period. To avoid such brand-zapping clinkers everyone and anyone who has access to the company’s social media accounts must be trained within an inch of their lives as to the art of proper interaction and the prerequisite to protect the brand’s public identity at all costs.
Any brand, from a conventional online marketed company to a professional football team will have die-hard supporters and dyed in the wool h8rs. That just goes with the online territory. How they react to both praise and slams separates the social media winners from the losers.

Posted in Social Media, Online Branding, Current Events

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