File this under "when real-time marketing goes horribly wrong."
 
The stars were out for Hollywood's biggest night Sunday, and many brands were trying to capitalize on the Oscars audience by live Tweeting and engaging in other ways on social media.

Today we ran a story about how several local advertising agencies have responded to the pressures of being quick to react and engage with consumers online.  But sometimes, even the best intentions fall flat or smack you right in the face.

Exhibit A:

TotalBeauty.com, a website for women that provides beauty tips and reviews, Tweeted during the pre-show Oscars red carpet, "We had no idea @Oprah was #tatted, and we love it. #Oscars" along with a picture not of the media mogul but of actress Whoopi Goldberg. Let's just say the Internet didn't take too kindly to the brand's mistake. Later, TotalBeauty apologized to Oprah and Whoopi on Twitter and even went as far to say that the company would donate $10,000 to the stars' charity of choice.
 
I asked a few local ad executives what they thought of the snafu and what companies can learn.
 

How do you think something like happens?

Bridget Jewell, associate director of community at Periscope: Often times when you're reacting to a live event, everything is happening very quickly and you want to react very quickly leaving little or no time to double check things before you publish. The speed combined with a potential lack of knowledge — maybe your brand social person is super into celebrities so they're perfect for award shows but they're not the most interested in sports so they wouldn't be the best for the Super Bowl — can lead to mistakes.

Joe Cecere, president and chief creative officer of Little & Company: Brands are facing more pressure than ever to insert themselves into culturally-relevant conversations and events, especially when it gives them access to huge audiences. And often, when we try to move so quickly, we can trip up or come across in a rushed, unauthentic way.

Jillian Froehlich, director of social strategy at Fallon: Events like the Oscars are major pop cultural moments that involve a great deal of reaction if an organization chooses to cover it via social media. Often social media war rooms with a mix of creatives, writers, strategists and community managers are utilized to allow a quick-turn response. I'm guessing that this team could have been understaffed and therefore overwhelmed by the amount of content needed to cover each of the beauty looks. And the desire to get content out caused the biggest misstep: forgoing the QA [quality assurance] process before a post is pushed live. The QA process ensures that all info is accurate, including Twitter tags. Also, once a post has been published, it's best practices to monitor community feedback. This would have ensured that the post was taken down and an apology was provided quickly.  Fallon specializes in setting up brands with a complete community management process to avoid these types of situations.

What should the company have done to fix their mistake?

Bridget: In this situation, they reacted quite well in my opinion. They deleted the tweet but then didn't try to act like it didn't happen. They sent an apology and then followed up with an act that showed they were serious about their apology — a donation to the celebrities' charity of choice.

Joe:  Recognize the mistake in real-time (i.e., within minutes not hours) — acknowledging the mistake in a more substantial, authentic way. But then move on quickly.
 
Jillian: Responded quickly with a human-sounding apology.

In the fast-paced, social media landscape is there a way to prevent errors like this from happening?

Bridget:  This situation is of course every community manager's nightmare. We have approval processes in place to prevent mistakes like this from happening. Having a group of people in a war room for events of this nature helps to catch mistakes before they're published but still allows you to react quickly with multiple people blocking and tackling tasks.

Joe: Do your homework beforehand and have the right people in place to represent your brand.

Jillian: Having a fully staffed team and dedicated QA process would have prevented this.
 
What can other companies learn from this?

Bridget: It's important to have more than one person involved in social engagement for review prior to posting, especially during live events when you have even more eyes watching your every tweet, post, like, favorite and reply. It's also important when you do make a mistake to acknowledge it with your community and find a solve for the situation that was created by the social post.

Joe: Mistakes do happen but you need to acknowledge them quickly and authentically. After, keep moving forward, stay true to your company values, and don't repeat the same mistakes.

Jillian: If you are going to jump into a pop culture moment, remember that the stakes are high due to the amount of attention on the event. Be prepared for a plan to not only jump in on the conversation but also how to respond if something goes wrong.

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