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Tweets Gone Wild: Amazon Jeopardizes Seller’s Reputation

An innocent product promotion tweet by Amazon proved poorly timed, drawing negative reactions from around Twitter. Internet Retailer noted how a seller’s “cereal killer” bowl Twitter posting by Amazon, made in the wake of the horrific Orlando shooting, led to the critical responses followed by Amazon removing the product listing from their site.

The post was made unbeknownst to the seller as part of Amazon’s promotional efforts. “Amazon tweeted a photo of a Da-Ba-Do’s bowl with the words “cereal killer” and red paint splatter that looks like bloodstains, along with “#Guilty” as the hashtag,” Internet Retailer said.

The negative responses to the tweet on social media briefly cost the product’s seller, Desirae DeBellis, exposure and potential sales during the period her listing was absent from the Handmade at Amazon site. Amazon did later restore the listing and it contacted the seller to apologize.

“News events and tragedies are an unfortunate inevitability of life, yet highlight the need for caution and attention. Social media automated content curation and engagement is only as good as the humans monitoring it,” Brandwatch head of PR Dinah Alobeid told EcommerceBytes.com, commenting on the Amazon situation.

Alobeid continued, “Sense-checking posts and reactions for every single online mention doesn’t have to be an impossible task. The timing was terrible but there is no way the brand could’ve have predicted any of the events of the day would’ve happened.”

“Of course, managing a community as large as Amazon’s is going to introduce some unique challenges. Generally speaking, a larger crowd translates to more diversity, more eyes watching and more incoming opinions,” Brandwatch content and research manager James Lovejoy said. “The scrutiny that a brand like Amazon endures means they must be more intelligent about what they post and in this case, when they post it.”

Brandwatch recently released a report that found that many retailers do not engage optimally with their audiences over social platforms – but interestingly, it found some brands, including Amazon, Etsy, and eBay, are getting it right.

“With time, this particular incident will move out of the spotlight. In the meantime the seller can work toward building authentic engagement and positivity by engaging with similar sellers and the customers who have purchased and enjoyed her products,” Alobeid said.

But brands should consider being proactive to keep on top of potential situations that might arise in social media. “This is an opportunity to do better, to implement deep social listening and possibly put into place reports on breaking news to alert community managers of any unusual activity in the online world so they can be agile and adjust content prior to the accidental and untimely issuing of an insensitive tweet that was never meant to be that at all,” said Alobeid.

Brands have the added challenge of monitoring tweets outside their control such as those posted by the online marketplaces on which they sell.


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David A Utter
David A Utter
David A. Utter is a freelance writer based in Lexington, KY. He has covered technology topics from search to security to online business and has been quoted in places like ZDNet and BusinessWeek. He considers his appearance on NPR's "All Things Considered" with long-time host Robert Siegel a delightful highlight. You can find him on Twitter @davidautter and on LinkedIn.